If you suffer from chronic pain, you’re not alone. Chronic pain affects almost 40% of Americans-more than those affected by diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
In addition to the extraordinary medical costs associated with health care and lost productivity, suicide risk is doubled in chronic pain sufferers and these individuals often die significantly earlier, from all causes, than those without chronic pain.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists beyond the normal tissue healing time, which is assumed to be 3 months. Acute pain, by contrast is a normal sensation alerting you to possible injury and the need to take action. When pain is chronic, the pain signals keep firing in the nervous system long beyond normal healing time often in the absence of any injury or tissue damage. In such cases, a mind-body syndrome may be at play and the cure might reside outside the the offices of traditional medical practice.
Some chronic pain syndromes include:
Many of the symptoms associated with these syndromes, such as insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, and depression can be caused by physical disorders that require medical attention. However if you have already received medical treatment and the only help you got was a prescription for an opioid, surgery or an injection, then you may want to consider other alternatives.
In fact the high prevalence of chronic pain is a very strong indicator that the prevailing methods of treating pain are ineffective. Most of the evidence regarding chronic pain suggests that pharmaceuticals and surgery have increased the suffering, disability and death rate of chronic pain patients.
Unfortunately your doctor is unlikely to be knowledgeable about how to treat chronic pain. Less than half of all medical schools offer any type of pain education, including its causes and treatment or pharmacological pain management. In fact, only 3.8% of medical schools even have a required course on pain.
In spite of the inability of most doctors to effectively treat chronic pain, there are many effective treatments including mind/body approaches, exercise,nutrition, herbs, acupuncture, and bodywork. And yet, in spite of the enormity of the suffering and costs, these treatments are largely ignored by the medical establishment.
In a future article we will discuss the findings by some of the most progressive doctors in this field who have achieved great success in not only managing but curing patients all together of chronic pain.