“Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it twenty-four hours a day.” ― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
If you are an athlete or a physically active individual, you are more likely to be the type of person who is accustomed to physical pain. While this pain may be associated with extreme physical exertion from working out or being engaged in a sport or activity, it may also be from injuries.
And, if this is a normal state for you, it is also likely that you simply learn to “live with it” or try to “tough it out.”
But there is abundant evidence that chronic pain can be damaging to us both physically and mentally. In fact, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
“Chronic pain has been linked to numerous physical and mental conditions and contributes to high health care costs and lost productivity. A limited number of studies estimate that the prevalence of chronic pain ranges from 11% to 40%. In 2016, an estimated 20.4% of U.S. adults had chronic pain and 8.0% of U.S. adults had high-impact chronic pain.”
Another way to think of these numbers is that over 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain and almost 20 million are affected by high-impact chronic pain.
Chronic pain is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain as “pain on most days or every day in the past 6 months.” High-impact chronic pain is defined as chronic pain that “limited life or work activities on most days or every day during the past 6 months.”
Your Pain Really Could be Killing You
While that might seem like an overstatement, the research indicates otherwise. Mentally and psychologically, the long-term effects of chronic pain can be destructive. It can affect our mood, disrupt our sleep, diminish our memory and concentration, and even impact our relationships.
One article reported the following,
“Research covering the different ways the brain processes pain show us that the brain reacts differently to short-term pain than it does to long-lasting pain. When the body experiences the latter, it can change the central nervous system (CNS), and influence sensory, emotional, and modular circuits that would otherwise inhibit pain. Chronic pain is now looked at as a neurological disease of its own—comorbid with symptoms of anxiety and depression.”
In addition to the mental and emotional impact, chronic pain can have an effect on your body aside from the pain you’re experiencing already. For example, long-term pain can lead to acute stress. According to the NIH, stress has both physical and emotional effects on our bodies. It can raise our blood pressure, increase our breathing rate and heart rate, and cause muscle tension. These are hard on the body and can lead to fatigue, sleeping problems, and changes in appetite.
If you feel tired but have a hard time falling asleep, you may have stress-related fatigue. Or you may notice that you can fall asleep, but you have a hard time staying asleep.
In addition, because people are unique and their pain is unique to them, how that pain impacts them physically will vary. Some of the more commonly reported issues:
- Stomach pain
- Muscle pain (in other locations)
- Loss of balance
One of the most common results of dealing with chronic pain, especially muscle pain in the limbs, neck and shoulders, or the back, is pain resulting from compensating for limited mobility.
For example, if you are suffering from a chronically painful knee joint, there can be a strong tendency to favor that leg and the resulting changes in gait, stride, and other motions can trigger pain in your hips, lower back and your other leg.
This is seen with back pain, as well.
Chronic lower back pain can create dysfunctions with activities such as walking, sleeping, standing, and traveling or sitting. The NIH found that daily living activities are affected by these dysfunctions and the intensity of chronic pain affects the level of dysfunction. Studies have also shown that the older a person is, the more significantly lower back pain can affect their ability to perform regular activities.
Treating Your Chronic Pain Is a Holistic Response
While it may seem somewhat admirable or even noble to bear chronic pain in silence, it is actually destructive. But it’s more common than you may think. According to one survey, over 20 percent of people suffering from chronic pain don’t report it to their health care provider.
WebMD noted that the survey revealed,
“More than one in five people living with pain said they did not seek treatment for the problem. Men and adults under 40 were the least likely to report their pain, and approximately one in four silent sufferers said their pain interfered with daily activities.”
American Pain Society president Dennis Turk, PhD, says the finding that pain is underreported comes as no surprise. “It is common to think that pain is something you just live with, or that it is an inevitable part of aging,” he says.
However, by treating your chronic pain you also alleviate the complementary symptoms, issues and dysfunctions – both mental and physical – that are a result of your chronic pain. In this way you can take a holistic approach to your body’s healing and recovery.
[h3] Getting Pain Relief With at Pain and Performance Solutions
When you come to your first appointment, we will endeavor to learn everything we can about your present discomfort as well as any history of pain. Achieving complete pain relief with us begins with an understanding of when and how your pain started. A full examination will help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to get you on your road to recovery.
Your openness and honesty are important, as is your trust in us. Ultimately, getting your body healthy and working properly is the only way to achieve total recovery.