Pain is a symptom of many disorders. The most common cause of pain is when the body detects tissue injury or some sorts of disease. For common aches and pains the intensity roughly matches the physical disorder. Some people have recurring pains, like headaches or menstrual cramps, that they have learned to recognise as non-threatening.
Simple injuries can become inflamed or infected, and this tends to prolong the pain. Deep tissue injuries like a sprained ankle, also tend to last days or weeks rather than hours.
The biggest problem is with pains that should go away but don’t. There is no specific time after which a short term pain becomes chronic. This depends on the specific condition. A simple rule of thumb is that if the pain has lasted a lot longer than you had expected it to at the outset, then you may have a chronic pain problem.
Chronic pain sometimes means that there is a persistent tissue disorder, such as arthritis, and sometimes it results from a disorder in the pain alarm system itself. This can happen, for example, if there has been injury to the nerves… like a noisy telephone line. Some medical conditions are frequent causes of nerve pain, diabetes, for example, or shingles. Surgery, particularly in the chest area, or amputation of a body part, may leave you with persistent burning and electric shock-like pain.
The amount of pain that different people have associated with seemingly identical injuries or medical conditions can vary a great deal. One person may suffer greatly, while another does not even need minor pain relievers. A particularly distressing, yet not uncommon situation, is when a seemingly minor injury, perhaps just a paper cut, leads to severe persistent pain. We do not know for sure why this happens. Some people appear to be predisposed to pain while others seem to be immune. In part these individual differences may reflect upbringing or cultural traditions. However, there are more and more indications that pain response may also be affected by our genes, and we have no control over our genes.
No matter what the underlying cause of your pain, similar pain management principles apply. QPain specialists are able to tailor a treatment program to suit you specifically.
Treatment may involve:
- Non-procedural treatments:
- Procedural treatments:
Often the best treatment is a combination of all of these and is termed multimodal or multidisciplinary treatment. You may benefit from involvement in a pain management program to improve quality of life and function. QPain specialists can arrange a program for you.