Dealing with chronic pain
Published 11:14 am Monday, April 10, 2023
As we age, depending on how “hard” we played growing up or the injuries we suffered along the way, our bodies, eventually present us with a “payback” bill for all the damage we may have done. For some, it’s just small aches and pains, for many others, it can be some level of pain from arthritis, and inflammation of the joints to serious back or leg pain.
For those of us, like myself, who have a combination of family genetics and a wide variety of sports injuries, the pain we deal with isn’t a once-in-a-while event like a headache, sprained ankle or other acute, short-term pain. It is dealing with discomfort every day, and we usually have to learn to adjust to living with it.
One of the first questions about any pain you are having is, “What’s the underlying cause?” Pain isn’t just a symptom. Chronic pain can last for months and if your body isn’t recovering from a particular area of pain, it’s time to see your doctor or a pain specialist.
Before seeing a doctor, make some notes so you can answer some typical questions such as:
- When did the pain start? Does it come and go?
- What else was going on when the pain started?
- Is the pain dull, sharp, burning, or something else?
- When do you feel the pain?
- Is there a pattern to your pain?
- Does anything you’re currently doing, or a particular OTC medicine ease your pain?
By answering these questions, your doctor can work with you to find a diagnosis. Sometimes there are no clear answers to why you have pain, and treatment is usually available, even for chronic pain. Diagnostic options may mean having something as simple as an X-ray to discover the source of the problem. An X-ray, depending on the area of the body associated with the pain is often required by health insurance providers prior to approving an advanced diagnostic tool such as an MRI for soft tissue problems such as back and hip problems.
Your doctor may suggest rest, heat, cold, light exercise, OTC medicines like Tylenol or Aleve, but these also must be considered safe based on other medications you may be taking daily. Using narcotic pain medications, which do work may be an option, but narcotics come with their own set of complications, restrictions and side effects. They should not be considered lightly or a first line of treatment.
Your physician may suggest a set number of physical therapy (P/T) sessions to stretch, strengthen or rebuild parts of the body that are associated with the pain you’re suffering. If P/T helps, more sessions may be scheduled, and your medical insurance may cover it. Lifestyle changes may be required if you have foot, ankle or lower leg and knee issues. Common sense is required to allow your body to either heal or adjust to any new lifestyle that may be required for anywhere from a few weeks to the rest of your life.
Ron Kauffman is a Consultant & Expert Speaker on Issues of Aging. You may contact him by phone at (828) 696-9799 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org