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Jax Spine & Pain Centers: What is a Chronic Pain Patient?

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts at least 12 weeks. The pain may feel sharp or dull, causing a burning or aching sensation in the affected areas. It may be steady or intermittent, coming and going without any apparent reason. Chronic pain can occur in any part of your body. Chronic pain can affect as many as eight of every 10 American adults. Pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or years. Some people suffer chronic pain even when there is no past injury or apparent body damage. Chronic pain is linked to conditions including: Headache.

Here are some of the most common causes affecting American adults today:

Chronic Back Pain

According to research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, no less than 84 percent of adults in the U.S. will experience chronic back pain at some point in their life. Often occurring in the lower back, the pain may be caused by an injury or develop progressively due to arthritis, osteoporosis, or normal wear-and-tear.

Back pain has become an epidemic in the U.S. and is today a leading cause of disability and lost productivity in the workplace. Common causes of chronic back pain include:
  • Slipped or bulging discs, typically caused by twisting or lifting injuries
  • Spinal stenosis involving the narrowing of the spinal canal and compression of nerves
  • Compression fractures commonly associated with osteoporosis
  • Soft tissue damage caused by strain or trauma to back muscles, ligaments, or tendons
  • Spinal fractures
  • Structural deformities such as scoliosis (the abnormal sideways curvature of the spine) or lordosis (the excessive inward curvature of the lower back)

Chronic Headaches

Chronic Joint Pain

Joint pain is one of the leading types of chronic pain among American adults, typically caused by injury, infection, or advancing age. According to a report from the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative, arthritis is the most common cause, affecting over 51 million Americans (or roughly one of every two adults).

Some of the more common types of chronic joint pain are:

  • Osteoarthritis, common in the elderly and usually affecting the larger joints
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder which causes swelling od the joint spaces
  • Repetitive motion injury, common in athletes and people who do repetitive physical activities
  • Bursitis caused by swelling of the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints
  • Tendinitis caused by the inflammation of joint tendons

Chronic Nerve Pain

Chronic nerve (neuropathic) pain affects one of every 10 Americans, according to a study from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. This commonly happens when the nerves are either compressed, damaged, or exposed to drugs which strip their protective exterior coating (called the myelin sheath).

Some of the more common examples of chronic neuropathic pain are:

  • Sciatica, typically caused by nerve compression which triggers a shooting pain down the leg
  • Diabetic neuropathy, often occurring in the hands or feet.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome, commonly associated with repetitive motion
  • Postherpetic neuralgia, a type of chronic pain which persists after a shingles outbreak
  • Trigeminal neuralgia, caused by injury to the trigeminal nerve of the face

Chronic Pain Overall

Chronic pain constitutes a serious health, social and economic issue worldwide. A 2011 Institute of Medicine Report noted that more than 100 million Americans meet the criteria for a chronic pain diagnosis, which leads to more than 500 billion dollars in direct and indirect medical costs annually. Beyond the numbers, chronic pain is an enormous burden on quality of life for the individual. Moreover, treatment options are often characterized by an incomplete efficacy and/or dose limiting side effects. Neuroscience can contribute to better understanding the mechanisms that turn acute pain into chronic pain, assessing the long-term impact that chronic pain has on the brain, and the benefits and risks of various treatment options.

Too often, pain is treated as a purely biomedical problem. It is a biopsychosocial condition. Psychological treatment can be combined with medication to equip people with the tools to better control their pain experience. Psychological therapies can also lower risks such as addiction, because the emphasis is on engaging patients in managing their daily actions to help themselves to feel better in the long run, rather than relying solely on passive medications. Yet a common clinical practice is to recommend such psychosocial strategies for pain only after all medications have failed.

At Jax Spine & Pain Centers, we get to the root of your problem. We take the time to trace the steps that has brought you to this painful crossroads. A pain management specialist is a physician with special training in evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of all different types of pain. Pain is actually a wide spectrum of disorders including acute pain, chronic pain and cancer pain and sometimes a combination of these. Pain can also arise for many different reasons such as surgery, injury, nerve damage, and metabolic problems such as diabetes. Occasionally, pain can even be the problem all by itself, without any obvious cause at all.

The most important consideration in looking for a pain management specialist is to find someone who has the training and experience to help you with your particular pain problem and with whom you feel a comfortable rapport. Since many types of chronic pain may require a complex treatment plan as well as specialized interventional techniques, pain specialists today must have more training than in the past, and you should learn about how your pain physician was trained and whether he or she has board certification in pain management.

ALL of our doctors at Jax Spine & Pain Centers are ‘at least’ double board certified in interventional pain medicine and anesthesiology. Call for your appointment today: 904.223.3321.

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