The sensation of pain is our body’s natural alarm system, alerting us of potential injury through a series of discomfort signals. These very effective alerts become a problem though when they persist, sometimes for months or even years at a time, becoming chronic pain and having an incredible impact on every facet of our lives.
Chronic Pain Awareness Month was established in September of 2001 to raise public awareness of issues related to this national epidemic and advancements in research. How many people are affected by chronic pain, what is it, and what does it do to our systems?
Pain By Numbers
According to the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, chronic pain affects 100 million Americans, which is more than cancer, heart disease, stroke and diabetes combined. A recent market research report indicates that around the world, that figure is closer to 1.5 billion. This has a tremendous impact on quality of life; 77% of patients reported feeling depressed, 70% said they had trouble concentrating, 74% had impacted energy levels, and 86% reported an inability to sleep well. When is pain considered chronic?
Help, Now! vs. Ughhh…
While injury is the most common cause of pain, illness and psychological conditions like depression or anxiety are also sources, and it can even occur without any recognizable trigger at all. Acute Pain is an intense sensation activated in the nervous system, which is designed to alert us of possible injury and a pressing need to take care of a problem now. A burn, a bee sting, and a scrape are simple examples of intense pain that grab our attention and call us to action. Chronic pain is different in that it persists, continuing to fire up the nervous system for weeks, months, and even years at a time. While it may have originated with an initial problem, chronic pain can also cause suffering in the absence of any past injury. How can this extended response ultimately affect your systems?
The Pain Prism
Pain may originate as a physical sensation, but it expands, affecting every part of our lives. Harvard Medical School considers the sensation of chronic pain to also be an emotional condition, one “that affects thought, mood, and behavior, and can lead to isolation, immobility, and drug dependence,” noting that people with chronic pain have three times the average risk of developing psychiatric problems. Adding to this mental stress are the costs of chronic pain, which the Institute of Medicine reports are at least $560-$635 billion in health care fees and lost wages annually. Suffering from chronic pain can also lead to other physical problems, including loss of sleep, hypertension, compromised brain function, weight gain, adrenal fatigue and more. It was recently found that chronic pain also has capacity to become increasingly complex in its pathophysiology, meaning it is even more difficult to treat over time.
Is Chronic Pain Impacting Your Life?
The medical team at Flexogenix® is committed to providing innovative, non-surgical options to help our patients eliminate pain and regain active and fulfilling lifestyles. Call us today to learn more about how we can eliminate chronic pain from your life!