Chronic pain affects people in many ways. While almost everyone knows that chronic pain puts tremendous strain on the body, most people don’t realize that it can also affect the mind. In fact, those who suffer from chronic pain can experience anxiety, depression, irritation and exhaustion so great that it can change their personality and cause them to lose sight of who they are and what was once important to them.
Our brain is in control
In a healthy brain, all regions exist in a state of equilibrium. When one region of the brain is active, the others quiet down. However, recent studies have shown that in people with chronic pain, a region of the prefrontal cortex most associated with emotion fails to deactivate when it should. This failure causes neurons in the brain to deteriorate more quickly than normal, changing the person’s brain chemistry and the wiring of their nervous system in ways that can lead to depression-like symptoms and a lessened ability to focus.
It’s also true that when the brain repeatedly experiences pain over long periods of time, it goes into self-protection mode and rewires itself to anticipate future bouts of pain. This can put chronic pain sufferers in a constant state of wariness and anxiety. From this state, even mild pain sensations can begin to feel agonizing.
What happened to all that energy?
There’s no disputing that long-term pain has a profound effect on quality of life. Chronic pain can wear a person down, draining their energy and sapping their motivation. In response, chronic pain sufferers tend to limit their social contact as a way to reduce stress and decrease the amount of energy expended. This can create a passiveness in behavior and a lack of personal interaction that can lead to loneliness, isolation and depression. Sometimes chronic pain sufferers blame themselves—rather than their condition—for their changing outlook on life, which can compound their isolation and psychological distress and lead to an array of negative attitudes and behaviors.
That is so irritating
People suffering from chronic pain could also find their personalities becoming edgy or angry. Long-term pain can change a person’s relationship to basic functioning, so that even relatively mundane tasks are tough to tackle and ultimately frustrating. When so much effort is required just to get through the day, chronic pain sufferers can become irritable, short-tempered and impatient. While it might look like they are “sweating the small stuff”—what they’re actually grappling with has become quite “big stuff” to them.
Early treatment is the best treatment
Treating chronic pain can be challenging—but seeking treatment early on can often prevent chronic pain from getting worse. The goals of treatment are straightforward: to reduce pain, increase your ability to function and restore quality of life. If you experience pain that last longer than three months, you should see a pain management specialist to develop an individualized treatment plan that identify ways to manage your pain.
At Pain Management and Injury Relief, we use the latest technologies and most advanced equipment to help manage your pain. Our continuum of services includes targeted pain-relieving injections to minimally invasive procedures and non-narcotic pain-relief methods. In addition, we often recommend incorporating complementary alternative medicine (CAM) therapy options like acupuncture, yoga and relaxation exercises to relieve some of the symptoms of chronic pain.
If you’d like to learn more about options for addressing your chronic pain, we encourage you to call Pain Management and Injury Relief at (877) 724-6349 to make an appointment today.