Pain is a normal sensation, felt by the body, which is triggered by the nervous system in response to an injury inside or outside the body, or to possible injury. It makes you aware of the need to look after the part of the body that is injured – or which might develop an injury if neglected. Pain usually has a known cause, occurs for a certain duration of time and goes away when the injury heals or is treated.
Whilst pain is the body’s natural response to injury and signals the need to take care of that part of the body, it also has an unfavorable side, as it is capable of negatively impacting our functioning, productivity and quality of life. This is especially the case when pain persists for long periods of time and goes undiagnosed and untreated – as typically happens with chronic pain.
Types of Pain
There are various types of pain. The two basic types of pain are acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain is normal and, as already defined above, is a natural response to detectable injury inside or outside the body. This type of pain can be diagnosed and treated and is usually limited to a certain period of time and severity. However, when pain persists for weeks, months or even years after the initial injury has healed, it is referred to as Chronic Pain. Chronic Pain is not normal and some people even suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage.
Many researchers have attempted to define chronic pain. Some use the duration parameter arbitrarily and consider pain that persists longer than 6 months as chronic. A few others have extended the duration to a year. Another definition of chronic pain is pain that persists longer than the expected period of healing.
Whatever the definition of chronic pain, the important fact is that this type of pain usually cannot be diagnosed and almost always goes untreated, causing severe problems for sufferers. It adversely impacts upon quality of life, affecting day to day functioning and levels of productivity. Approximately 50 million Americans are either partially or totally disabled because of this type of pain.
Therefore, it is important that you not disregard any pain from which you or your loved one is suffering that continues to persist long after an injury has healed – or then has no basis for being present as per the doctors. Having said that, what is equally important is that you seek professional help from the right place. Many healthcare professionals fail to recognize chronic pain because it can occur in the absence of physical findings. As a result, countless individuals are informed that “the pain is in your head”, whilst the fact is that, according to the American Chronic Pain Association, one out of every four Americans suffer from some element of chronic pain, Chronic pain is not in the head ? it is real and can be diagnosed and treated. However, it often requires the specialized services of a comprehensive, multidisciplinary pain management team.