Ranging in intensity from mild to completely incapacitating, chronic pain affects approximately 100 million Americans. Having a better understanding of chronic pain, defined as pain lasting six months or more, can help you gain more control over how it affects your life. At The Spine Institute, a leading Los Angeles spine surgery center, there are a few things we wish all patients knew about chronic pain.
Chronic pain is notoriously difficult to diagnose. This is often the case with lower back pain, although the discomfort is very real. Even when an anatomical problem is identified, there may be other factors, such as stress, contributing to your pain.
If you’re experiencing pain, there’s a tendency to refrain from physical activity or become overly cautious. While some modification of activities is recommended, stopping all physical activity is only going to make muscles weaker and contribute to more pain.
Chronic pain can occur any time of the day or night, which is why sleep issues are often experienced. Lack of meaningful sleep, meaning the deep sleep needed to naturally repair tissues, can make chronic pain worse.
If you have been prone to depression in the past, ongoing pain may worsen it. Even if you’ve never experienced depression, it’s natural to become discouraged when pain seems to be a permanent part of your daily life.
How you experience chronic pain is likely to be very different from how somebody with the same condition experiences it. Avoid the inclination to compare yourself to others and realize that how you feel pain is unique.
There is rarely a magic “cure” that will make chronic pain disappear. Reaching a point where your pain is manageable is going to take some time, so developing an effective emotional support system, either online or through local support groups, is an equally important part of dealing with it.
Don’t let chronic pain take control of your life. Reach out to The Spine Institute and speak with an experienced board-certified spine surgeon in Los Angeles who can determine the root of your pain and discuss all possible treatment options. The path to a pain free life begins here.