According to the Lancet, chronic pain affects more than 30% of people worldwide. It has been defined as pain that persists or recurs for longer than three months.
So, if you have been suffering discomfort anywhere in your body for 12 weeks or more, you could be one of the millions in this country living with chronic pain, The Sun reports.
Chronic pain reportedly affects 38 per cent of women and 40 per cent of men. And while two-thirds of patients are over the age of 75, chronic pain can affect all ages, including children.
Singer Lady Gaga, 36, has been struggling with chronic pain and recently told how she feels pain “all over the body” from the chronic condition fibromyalgia.
Pain is the most common reason people seek health care and the leading cause of disability in the world, The Lancet states.
In an earlier report featured in Today in 2016, Dr Stephen Anderson, an American College of Emergency Physicians board member and pain management expert is reported to have said, “Chronic pain is simply pain that will never go away.
“The most common form I’ve seen is musculoskeletal pain, like shoulder or lower back pain, that sometimes an orthopedic surgeon may be able to fix.”
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, chronic pain is defined as pain signals that keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months and even years. They can be related to an initial injury or can occur without any bodily damage.
Additionally, according to health watchdog Nice, the most common types of chronic pain, are back pain (present in 53% of cases), headaches (48%) and joint pain (46%).
Dr Amanda Dee, who has specialized in chronic pain for 14 years, is reported to have said, “It is very different to the acute pain that you experience after an injury and goes away with medication or treatment.
“Sometimes the trigger for chronic pain is never known.
“It happens when tissue damage has healed but your body still thinks it’s in -danger.
“It’s like having a faulty alarm ¬system sending continual ¬signals to your brain.
“Nerves become very over-sensitized, so even tiny things can cause pain — and that plays on an automatic loop.”
The condition, which can be “on and off” pain or continuous, means some people cannot eat, work properly or enjoy life to the fullest.
GPs reportedly often ¬prescribe high-strength opioid painkillers but according to Dr Amanda, a holistic approach, including managing the psychological impact of ¬living with pain, is also necessary.
The chartered clinical psychologist is quoted as saying, “It can take a hold and affect quality of life if sufferers haven’t got the right help.
“It can leave people isolated because quite often the pain ends up taking the driving seat.”
Dr Amanda states that the impact on mental health is so significant that one in five sufferers experience suicidal thoughts.
However, according to the doctor, there are things people can do at home to help.
She explains, “Chronic pain can’t always be cured but it can be managed.”
She adds, “It needs psychological support to live with it.
“First, it is very important to rule out any underlying causes with your GP.
Then patients need to find the right toolkit to live with it and enjoy life.”
Here are Dr Amanda’s tips to help manage chronic pain at home:
• Read up about chronic pain and find out what methods work for you.
• Find ways that help you fall asleep as sleep makes you physically and mentally resilient. Also, banish negative thoughts from your mind and soothe yourself to sleep, despite the pain.
• Try to be active, even if it hurts to do so. Check with your GP first, and then don’t be afraid of introducing activity in your life.
• Enhance the quality of your life by doing the things you enjoy doing. This will help to keep your mind and body strong. Stress and low moods will lead to the production of the hormone called adrenaline. This hormone can cause further pain and fatigue.
• Open the lines of communication with your loved ones, so that you don’t feel isolated. They will be able to support you better if they understand what you are going through.