I believe that the more you know about your pain the better prepared you are to manage it effectively. Knowledge is power. Once you know what is really going on with your body and mind, you can start taking action to effectively manage your pain.
In fact, it is vital that you begin to see pain as your friend, instead of your enemy. I know this is much easier said than done. In fact many of my patients have looked at me like I’m crazy when I tell them they must make peace with their pain —and not only that, pain can be their friend. Most people have a difficult time believing that, but nevertheless it is true. Pain can be our friend. Think of putting your hand on a hot burner of a stove. The pain you feel lets you know, and very quickly at that, to remove your hand.
Pain sensations are essential for human survival. Without pain you would have no way of knowing that something was wrong with your body. So without pain you would be unable to take action to correct the problem or situation that is causing the condition. With chronic pain management it is crucial that you take the correct type of action, or you could be trapped in an addiction.
Today I want to discuss the five different types of pain. Remember though, this is just an introduction and general overview. The five types of pain I’ll be describing are acute pain, chronic pain, recurrent acute pain, anticipatory pain, and neuropathic pain.
An example of acute pain is touching a hot surface—the first reaction is to quickly remove your hand (escape the trigger). There is a predictable treatment plan and obvious timeline for healing. Some other examples are: broken bones, cuts, scrapes, dental pain, etc. Many acute pain conditions do need pain relief. However, caution must be used when taking psychoactive medications like opiates or benzodiazepines; especially for someone in recovery or with high risk factors for addiction or a family history of addiction.
Ongoing back pain is one of the most common examples of chronic pain. The pain symptoms linger long after the original injury and does not readily respond to a conventional treatment plan. In fact, chronic pain often serves no recognizable useful purpose (the pain signal gets turned on and won’t go off). Treatment professionals are often at a loss to determine the exact nature of the problem, which leads to a judgment that “it must be all in their heads.” Some other examples of chronic pain conditions are neck pain, headaches, and fibromyalgia. Everyone at times can get frustrated when treatment plans don’t seem to be working.
When you live with chronic pain there will be times when your pain levels flare up—recurrent acute pain. Sometimes you can determine why and other times it comes as a complete surprise — you don’t really know why. But no matter why your pain flares up, you need to find safe effective ways to cope with the amplified symptoms. This requires having a good plan in place—those who fail to plan, plan to fail! Most of the time non-medication approaches work best. It is important to have a personalized pain flare up plan in place.
When you live with chronic pain you hurt. Doing certain things can make you hurt worse. So you come to believe that these things will always cause you to hurt. In other words, you associate those things with pain. You believe that every time you do those things, you will have pain. Because you believe that you are going to hurt, you activate the physiological pain system just by thinking about doing something that you believe will cause you to hurt.
This is anticipatory pain. You expect that something will make you hurt. That in turn activates the physiological pain system. This makes you start hurting even before you begin doing whatever it is that you believe will cause you to hurt. All you have to do is to start thinking about doing that thing. In other words you get what you expect.
Neuropathic pain is a complex chronic pain state that is usually accompanied by tissue injury. With this type of pain, the nerve fibers themselves may be damaged, dysfunctional or injured. These damaged nerve fibers send erroneous signals to other pain centers in your brain. The impact of nerve fiber injury includes a change in nerve function both at the site of injury and areas around the injury.
According to the Neuropathic Pain Network, somewhere between 5-23 million people (that’s between 2 to 8 percent of our population) are living with neuropathic pain in the United States. Unfortunately, it is a syndrome that is often under-diagnosed and under-treated.
To learn more about effective chronic pain management please check out my article The Need for Multidisciplinary Chronic Pain Management that you can download for free on our Article page.
You can learn about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website www.addiction-free.com. If you are working with people undergoing chronic pain management and want to learn how to develop a plan for managing their chronic pain and coexisting psychological disorders; including depression, addiction and other coexisting psychological disorders effectively; please consider my book Managing Pain and Coexisting Disorders: Using the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System. To purchase this book please Click Here.
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