Pain is something every person will experience at one time or another. Whether it’s something as simple as a paper cut, to more impactful long-term pain one might experience from an accident or illness. Pain starts in the receptor nerve cells, which are found just beneath the skins surface and within our organs. If you suffer an injury or become ill, these receptors send a message to your brain to alert it to the issue at hand. And while pain, itself, is normal and even useful at times, chronic pain can significantly affect a person’s day to day life. When does pain become chronic? “We define chronic pain as pain that usually lasts anything longer than three months from the onset. It’s normal to have acute pain after an event such as an illness or accident. In fact, most pain is physiological and useful. Unfortunately, some people, due to various factors, develop chronic pain.” explained Dr. Farayi Mbuvah of CMC Pain Management.
Chronic pain is not just a problem for the individual, it’s a national problem we all need to better understand. In 2016, the CDC estimated that over 50 million people in the United States suffer from some form of chronic pain. Chronic pain can, at times, result in short term or long-term loss of employment. The CDC estimates an annual cost of $635 billion dollars in the US- more than the yearly cost of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. The effects of chronic pain are far reaching. Chronic pain sufferers can develop anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, and more, causing a layering effect on not only the sufferer but society as a whole.
What causes pain?
The most common root causes of chronic pain are arthritis, back or neck pain, headaches, cancer related pain, scar tissue, or muscle pain. This pain sensation can feel like an aching, burning, stinging, or throbbing pain. Diagnosing your pain is the first step to a successful treatment plan. If your pain stems from an illness or injury, your provider can talk with you about your pain and refer you to a pain specialist to assist in managing your pain long term. Once you have connected with a pain doctor, they will do a full assessment of your age, health, function, history, and quality of life. If the patient is suffering from depression, anxiety, or even addiction from self-medicating attempts, a pain management specialist can facilitate with other providers to provide you with the healing and assistance you need to live a full and happy life again.
Dr. Mbuvah shares that “Often by the time the patient gets to me they’ve often suffered not just from the pain, but from anxiety, depression, and difficult social circumstances. My approach is to understand not just their physical issues or biological issues, but the emotional and social issues they are experiencing and connecting them with the appropriate experts to treat them as a whole.”
There are many avenues your provider can take to treat your pain, including but not limited to, nerve block, epidural injections, electrical nerve stimulation, medications, therapies, and much more. Your pain specialist will work with you to find a treatment that fits your needs and daily life. “When I see people suffering, and I can not only take them from pain relief but assisting them with managing their anxiety and depression, to be happy and enjoying their life, especially here at the beach with so much to enjoy, it’s so satisfying. To see them functional and happy, not just preoccupied with their pain.” expressed Dr. Mbuvah.
If you suffer from chronic pain, talk to your primary care provider about your pain and consider whether it’s time to consult with a pain specialist. There is hope for chronic pain sufferers and you are not alone in your suffering. For more on CMC Pain Management, click here.