What is Chronic Pain?
While acute pains
are a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different.
Pains keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years. There may have been an initial mishap -- sprained back, serious infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of
different pains -- arthritis, cancer, ear infection, but some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage.
pains affect older adults. Common pains include headache, low back pains, cancer
pains, arthritis pains, neurogenic pains (pains resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves or to the central nervous system itself), psychogenic pains (pains not due to past disease or injury or any visible sign of damage inside or outside the nervous system).
Is there any treatment?
Medications, acupuncture, local electrical stimulation, and brain stimulation, as well as surgery, are some treatments for
these kind of pains. Some physicians use placebos, which in some cases has resulted in a lessening or elimination of
pains. Psychotherapy, relaxation and medication therapies, biofeedback, and behavior modification may also be employed to treat chronic
What is the prognosis?
Many people with
this chronic pain can be helped if they understand all the causes of the pains and the many and varied steps that can be taken to undo what chronic pain has done. Scientists believe that advances in neuroscience will lead to more and better treatments for chronic pain in the years to come.
What research is being done?
Clinical investigators have tested
these type of patients and found that they often have lower-than-normal levels of endorphins in their spinal fluid. Investigations of acupuncture include wiring the needles to stimulate nerve endings electrically (electroacupuncture), which some researchers believe activates endorphin systems.
Other experiments with acupuncture have shown that there are higher levels of endorphins in cerebrospinal fluid following acupuncture. Investigators are studying the effect of stress on the experience of chronic pain.
Chemists are synthesizing new analgesics and discovering painkilling virtues in drugs not normally prescribed for
American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) P.O. Box 850 Rocklin, CA 95677-0850 [email protected] http://www.theacpa.org/ Tel: 916-632-0922 Fax: 916-632-3208
American Council for Headache Education 19 Mantua Road Mt. Royal, NJ 08061 [email protected] http://www.achenet.org/ Tel: 856-423-0258 800-255-ACHE (255-2243) Fax: 856-423-0082
National Headache Foundation 428 West St. James Place 2nd Floor Chicago, IL 60614-2750 [email protected] http://www.headaches.org/ Tel: 773-388-6399 888-NHF-5552 (643-5552) Fax: 773-525-7357
National Foundation for the Treatment of Pains 1330 Skyline Drive #21 Monterey, CA 93940 [email protected] http://www.paincare.org/ Tel: 831-655-8812 Fax: 831-655-2823
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© Anthony George 2005 What is Chronic Pain?