It starts with mild pain in one area, and then slowly, the intensity of the pain increases. Soon your life is all about coping with pain and moving from one day to another, praying for it to stop. You may have to organize your routine to avoid straining yourself too much. It may sound scary, but it is the reality that many live with. Coping with chronic pain can be challenging, especially if you do not have a sound support system and if the pain has progressed quite a bit.
Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. The problem may start because of some kind of underlying condition. When something is wrong in a part of your body, the nerves in the area send pain signals to the brain. In some cases, the nerves continue to send pain signals even after the area has healed. Therefore, it becomes challenging to diagnose chronic pain. Many patients are often told that their problem is imaginary.
The situation is changing slowly. There has been an increasing awareness in the medical community regarding chronic pain and its treatment. The best thing you can do for yourself is to identify chronic pain at the initial stages and try to nip it in the bud.
But how do you know if you are suffering from chronic pain? Here are eight ways to self examine your pain.
Identify The Correct Location And Radiation Of Pain
Firstly, you should identify the exact location of the pain. You may be suffering from back pain, but the exact location plays a crucial role in the correct diagnosis.
You should also notice if the pain is localized or if it is spreading to other areas. Spreading the pain is usually indicative of some serious damage, and you must contact your physician immediately.
Identify The Intensity On A Numeric Scale
Only you can feel your pain and its intensity. Unlike fever that you can assess with a thermometer, there is no way for a doctor to know how much pain you feel. But knowing the intensity is also crucial in diagnosing the cause and identifying a course of treatment.
The best way to communicate the intensity of your pain is to use a numeric scale that ranges from 0 to 10. Zero stands for no pain at all, and ten stands for debilitating pain.
If you are trying out a treatment course for chronic pain or taking pain medicine, then the numeric scale is the best way to recognize if the treatment is working.
Maintain A Pain Journal
Chronic pain doesn’t necessarily mean that you feel pain 24/7. You may feel it more after a long day or sometimes just early in the morning.
Maintaining a pain journal will help you in identifying the root cause and treating or managing chronic pain. Note down the pain areas and their intensity. If there are any changes during the day, make a note of that too.
A detailed pain journal will help you identify activities that may be aggravating your pain or triggering it. You can try to avoid these activities as a part of your pain management.
Check Your Medical History
What was the cause of your pain? What triggered it? Did you have an illness that started the pain? Your medical history can speak volumes on how to manage chronic pain.
Write down a detailed medical history that covers all past ailments. Don’t limit yourself to ones that occurred just before the pain started. Although these are the usual suspects, sometimes an ailment can lead to chronic pain weeks after it was treated.
Assess Psychological Factors
Did you know that bad mental health can also be one of the causes of chronic pain? If you have been dealing with a lot of stress, anxiety, or pressure, these could be the reason for the chronic pain.
Pain caused by psychological reasons creates a vicious cycle where the pain is worsening your mental health, and the deteriorating mental health is causing the pain.
Handling the underlying psychological issues with professional help can help you recover. Most of these issues tend to impact your sleep. You should consider taking the best sleeping pills to ensure that your body gets the rest it deserves to recuperate.
Identify The Type Of Pain
Pain encompasses many different types of feelings. The type of sensation can help you in narrowing down the cause of chronic pain and its treatment. Here is a broad classification of different pain sensations.
- Neuropathic pain such as burning, stabbing, or shooting pain.
- Musculoskeletal pain such as aching, soreness, or stiffness.
- Inflammatory pain such as aching, swelling, hotness, or redness.
Each of these categories leads to a distinct treatment option.
Check Your Range Of Motion
Some forms of chronic pain can limit your range of motion. When this happens, it can affect your day to day life. You may find yourself struggling to perform day to day tasks. Seemingly simple tasks will take longer, leading to frustration.
If you suffer from chronic pain, try to check your range of motion regularly. At least once a week, try to move your arms, legs, and back as far as you can. Even doctors use this method of self-examination to check the progress of your pain.
Substance Abuse History
A history of substance abuse is a leading cause of chronic pain. The effects of substance abuse last on your body for a long time, even after quitting the habit.
If you have chronic pain and the pain started without any other medical issues, then you must consider substance abuse as the cause. Mention this to your physician when you go to your checkup as it helps them in their diagnosis.
Live A Pain-Free Life
Chronic pain can have a harmful effect on your day to day life and your mental health. However, you must know that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Physiotherapy, regular massages, and chiropractic remedies can offer relief to a considerable extent. All of these, along with regular counseling, can help you overcome the pain and lead a healthy and happy life.