What Is Pain?
Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Many times, pain originates as a result of an injury or illness. In these cases, pain is a mechanism used by your body to promote healing by attempting to restrict movement and prevent further injury to the area.
Pain usually stops once the healing process is complete. However, there are times when pain continues long after the original cause has disappeared. Pain that does not improve as expected or continues longer than six months after healing has occurred is often referred to as chronic pain.
Pain is a highly complex condition that is experienced differently by each individual. Research shows that in addition to the physical causes of pain, a variety of factors contribute to the existence of pain, including:
- Dietary habits
- Work environment
- Relationships with family and friends
- Daily activities
- Stress levels
- Cultural background
The Cycle of Pain
Patients with chronic pain often begin to experience a variety of pain-related issues that seriously begin to affect the quality of their life. Common problems include:
- An increase in the severity and frequency of pain
- The appearance of new or referral pains (pain caused from an injury to a different part of the body)
- Difficulties with sleep
- Sense of helplessness and low self-esteem
- Depression and isolation
- Lack of interest and difficulty in relating to family, friends and coworkers
- Increased levels of anxiety and stress, especially financial stress caused by time away from work
- Lack of intimacy
- Stomach problems
- Memory difficulties
- Chronic fatigue
- Constant irritability and/or anger
As these conditions progress, they can have a dramatic effect on a person’s occupation, behaviors, social activities, relationships and overall mental well-being. In other words, they have a direct effect on the various components that make up pain, which ultimately leads to more pain. This effect creates an unfortunate cycle with pain causing new problems, which in turn cause more pain.
Breaking the Cycle
To stop the cycle and effectively treat pain, all of the different components that make up pain need to be addressed. For that reason, the Chronic Pain Rehabilitation Program at Scripps Mercy Hospital provides pain treatment that focuses on a person’s physical, psychological, social, occupational and behavioral well-being.