Over 2 billion people all over the world suffer and struggle with chronic pain. This mainly comes in the form of back or joint pain, arthritis and constant migraines. There are more people affected by chronic pain than diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease combined. Between the amount of time spent in doctors’ offices and loss of work hours, the financial losses that come with chronic pain are extremely high. The emotional losses incurred are also large as chronic pain affects our moods and can lead to depression, sleep disorders and alcohol or drug addictions. In short, this is a health issue that currently isn’t being handled properly. Many current solutions are nothing more than a band aid or temporary fix. Pharmaceutical drugs used to control pain are so strong that addiction to these drugs is typical. Over time, their effects become minimized and the side effects associated with them create all sorts of damage in other parts of the body.
In general, pain is an important mechanism that helps protect our bodies by warning us of damage. Pain begins with a stimulus that’s detected by special nerve cells known as nociceptors. These cells spread feeling in and out of the skin’s surfaces. They help make determinations whether the stimulus we’re exposed to puts us at risk for damage. Temperature, exposure to chemicals and physical trauma all activate a sensation of potential danger throughout our skin. This initiates brain function to access networks that process feelings, emotions and thoughts. All pain messages pass through our nerves by the use of electrical charges at the end of each nerve’s connection by the use of ions. This all culminates with the release of neurotransmitters in the spinal cord, which then passes the information to the next nerve cell.
Although chronic pain begins without explanation, the root cause begins when there is an excessive inflammatory response. This can happen due to trauma, injuries, burns or other damage we may have undergone. Chronic pain is difficult to treat through drugs because pharmaceuticals, such as morphine, leave severe side effects when used over a long period of time. Because of the risks involved, pharmaceutical companies have eluded creating a solution to treat pain. Historically drugs that have been created treat pain by blocking pain sensors. Research however, shows that many other important nerve channels are also affected by such drugs, such as nerve sensations that are used to control heart beat, breathing and movement.
Those suffering from chronic pain must also be mindful of behaviors that can further aggravate their pain. This includes bad nutrition, not sleeping enough and alcohol or drug consumption. Living an unhealthy lifestyle leads to additional damage and further aggravates the area suffering from inflammation.
Stress is also an important factor to consider when it comes to chronic pain. Perfectionism, hyperactivity, apprehension, or having a worrisome attitude leaves an excess amount of neural activity on alert. When we’re under constant stress the body overproduces a hormone known as cortisol. This affects the terminals in nerve cells and alters the ions (sodium, potassium and chlorine) that are used as pain channels. As a result, hypersensitivity to pain stimuli occurs. Even communication of normal stimuli to touch or even slight changes in temperature get confused in the spinal cord and all of a sudden become painful. This makes matters worse for the person since feeling such sensitivity to pain creates additional stress and the problem with stress and pain continue to self perpetuate.
Although chronic pain is misunderstood by many in the public as well as in the professional sphere, here are some tips to keep in mind. First, remember that pain is a stimulus of protection. If hard physical trauma was involved, damaged bones will always take longer to heal. Avoid movements in the affected area until you are completely healed. By doing so important structures such as those that make up bone will heal. If muscles are damaged, you must provide the adequate time to heal. Torn muscles cannot be used until the healing process has completed. Physical therapy can help in the healing process. When nerves are damaged, rest is required to permit time for the nerve to heal and regenerate. Sleep is crucial when any kind of damage is present. Aim to get no less than 8 hours of sleep every night. Nutrition is also important as some fruits and vegetables contain anti inflammatory components to them. When inflammation and pain are present we recommend using our Phytotherapi Chronic Pain solution to help in the healing and alleviation of pain. Whenever there is back and knee pain, losing weight is an absolute must.
In all of these cases, remember that stress will increase damage to any existing physical trauma. This will augment and continue painful sensations because of the way that stress affects the architecture of the brain, affecting its ability to fire and control pain channels. Pain intensifies in these situations, but the good news is that this alteration can be fixed since the brain can rewire itself. The brain has the capacity to map out problems and point strategies to resolve the problem of chronic stress.