Chronic Pain

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1. What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain refers to pain caused by a chronic condition or injury that may persist for a long time or even be life long.  Chronic pain may negatively affect a person’s quality of life, sleep and overall wellbeing. It can have a detrimental affect on physical, mental and social function and lead to hospitalization or a move to residential care.

2. How Common is Chronic Pain?

It is estimated that 35% of people over the age of 85 seek treatment for chronic pain. There may be a larger number of people who do not seek help for these problems

3. What Causes Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain may be caused by a multitude of factors. People may suffer from more than one condition that causes pain. Examples of causes of chronic pain include:

  • Musculoskeletal Causes
    • Osteoarthritis,
    • Rheumatoid and other inflammatory Arthritis
    • Deformities from injuries and Fractures
    • Chronic muscle problems such as  fibromyalgia, polymyalgia rheumatic
  • Neurological CausesSkin Ulcers and Wounds and chronic Skin Conditions
    • Strokes
    • MS
    • Shingles
    • Peripheral Nerve Damage – Trigeminal neuralgia,  Diabetic Neuropathy, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
    • Spinal cord and nerve root injury – spinal stenosis, sciatica, radiculopathy
  • Compression of internal organs from old scarring, chronic conditions and tumours  in the chest abdomen and pelvis


4. What Can my Doctor do for Chronic Pain?

Your doctor will try to find reversible  causes for your chronic pain. They will try to evaluate the intensity of the pain and impact on your quality of life and daily function. It is unusual to be able to completely eliminate chronic pain. However, your doctor will work with you to reduce the level of pain to a manageable level that is compatible with an active life. They may refer you to other health professionals such as a physiotherapist or occupational therapist or psychologist specializing in management of these problems.  The doctor may prescribe analgesics including, topical creams, narcotics, anticonvulsants and antidepressants at make the pain more manageable . They may recommend injections for musculoskeletal problems or special dressings for skin wounds. Referral may be made to a pain management specialist for intractable pain.

5. What can you do for Chronic Pain

Heat and cold may help for certain types of musculoskeletal pain. Reducing anxiety and maintaining regular routines with sufficient periods of rest may help you manage. Good nutrition, regular exercise and sufficient sleep will help reduce pain. Various over-the -counter medications may be helpful.  Topical analgesic creams such as diclofenac may help musculoskeletal problems. Acetaminophen may be helpful. You should not exceed 3 grams of this drug in a 24 hour period unless advised by your doctor and for short periods. Be vary careful with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen. These medications may cause stomach irritation, bleeding from the gastro-intestinal system, high blood pressure and damage to the kidneys. Muscle relaxants should be avoided, unless recommended by your doctor because they can cause confusion and other  adverse effects.  Acupuncture, physical therapy, massage and other things may be very helpful.

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