In the simplest terms, chronic pain is any pain that is long-lasting, recurrent or both. It can be mild, such as recurrent mild headaches, or severe and incapacitating. The causes of chronic pain range from the completely unknown, even by health professionals, to the specific, such as the pain of an arthritic knee, where the original cause is known to be an old sports injury. By definition, chronic pain is very difficult to treat. Conventional treatments include drug therapies and psychotherapy while natural health practitioners who treat chronic pain include every discipline from acupressure to yoga.
Common Types of Chronic Pain
- Chronic pain can be location-specific or felt througout the body. These are some of the more common types of chronic pain and a few natural therapies that are used to treat them:
- Arthritis: There are several types of arthritis, all of which are associated with chronic pain. Arthritis literally means "joint inflammation" and the pain of arthritis is usually localised in the affected joint area. Some types of arthritis include rheumatoid arthritis (thought to be a disorder of the immune system) and oestoarthritis (caused by the wearing down of cartilage). While not curable, effective non-invasive, drug-free treatments for arthritis include osteopathy, herbal medicines and a diet rich in antioxidants.
- Back pain: Back pain can become chronic, especially if not treated or effectively managed. The severity of the chronic pain is usually related to the severity of the original injury. The pain from pulling a back muscle will usually pass if nothing is done to aggravate the injury, while a herniated disc is excruciatingly painful and can result in chronic back pain. Natural therapies for chronic back pain include chiropractic, rolfing, reflexology and many other types of body work.
- Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia, unlike many types of pain, does not occur in conjunction with inflammation. It affects the muscles, tendons and ligaments and can be isolated or experienced as an all-over pain. Fibromyalgia is oftened controlled using a variety of mind-body techniques, some of which "work like a charm" for some, but not for others. Hypnotherapy, biofeedback and theta healing have all been effective treatments for some individuals suffering from fibromyalgia and other forms of chronic pain that resist other types of treatment.
The treatments mentioned above are just a few of the many that have provided relief from chronic pain for many sufferers. If you are suffering from chronic pain, you are not alone and treatment and support groups exist that may suggest these and other treatment programs. A medical diagnosis is always advisable before embarking on any treatment program and a holistic approach is probably better than relying on one form of treatment or therapy. While many pain relief medications are available, for example, these can become addictive if relied upon, but if, on the advice of a doctor, they are taken for relief of acute pain, also pursuing other avenues of relief may help prevent drug reliance.