Chronic Pain

What is chronic pain? Take a moment and think about that. How would you define it? 

Many times we seek help from the medical profession or even support from family or friends to help with our pain or discomfort – and sometimes we feel like we’re really not being heard. I once heard a really good definition of pain that I want to share with you:

“Pain is what the person says it is.”

That’s very important for us all to remember because the experience of pain is different for everyone. No two people are alike, and therefore, no two people are going to respond equally as well to various treatment modalities. One person may do best with laser therapy, another to massage, another to acupuncture, and so on.  So it’s important to help find the best path of healing for you. 

The sensation of pain involves communication between your nerves, spinal cord, and brain, and we can also experience more than one type of pain at a time, which makes the situation even more frustrating. Pain is nothing more than an alert system to the body that something is wrong, and there is a root cause of every pain we experience. 

Cut the Root

The integrative health specialists at Forum Health Valparaiso work very hard to identify the root cause of your pain. If you cut the root, the symptoms will fade away. That’s the big difference between holistic and integrative health versus traditional medicine. We’re not going to give you a pill to reduce symptoms; we’re going to try to answer why you have pain, then address that source, so true healing can begin.  And that’s a question you need to ask every healthcare practitioner you work with from here on out – Why do I have this pain? If they can’t answer that or won’t search for the why – you’re at the wrong practitioner.

Types of Pain

It is also helpful to be familiar with the different types of pain. Acute pain is short-term, usually lasting less than 6 months, and has a specific cause. It usually starts out sharp and intense and then gradually improves. Broken bones, surgery, dental work, cuts and burns are all examples.

Chronic pain, on the other hand, can last for years and can range from mild to severe on any given day. It can impact quality of life and can lead to tense muscles, decreased energy, anxiety and depression, and decreased mobility. Sometimes, the cause of chronic pain can be very hard to identify. It’s estimated that 50 million adults in the US suffer from chronic pain.

There are also terms to describe how pain feels. Nociceptive pain is one. This is the most common type of pain and it is caused by stimulation of pain fibers throughout your body, especially in your skin and internal organs. These nociceptors send messages to your brain, causing you to feel pain.

Nociceptors can lead to visceral pain, or injury or damage to your internal organs, and can include feelings of pressure, aching, cramping, or squeezing. Examples would include gallstones, appendicitis, or IBS.

Nociceptors can also result in somatic pain, or pain located in the skin, muscles, joints, and bones. This pain can feel like a constant ache, and examples include broken bones, strained muscles, burns, and arthritis.

Another main category of pain is neuropathic pain. This results from damage to the nervous system and is often described as burning, numbness, stabbing, or electric shocks. Causes include diabetes, accidents, shingles, and carpal tunnel.

If chronic pain is plaguing you, come in for a free consult at Forum Health Valparaiso. We will help get at the root of your pain and speed your road to healing. Call today at 219-510-5623!

Renee’ Kimberling, ND, RN, CNHP

Forum Health Valpo

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