Why is Chronic Pain a Major Problem?
To understand why chronic pain is a serious problem, you have to know what normal pain is first. If you feel pain it usually means that something in your physical body has been damaged.
Think about a time you fell down as a kid. You might have fallen on your head, shoulder, hands or knees.
You may have gotten some cuts on your skin, some bruising, swelling, maybe even a broken bone. There would have been at least some minor damage to your body. This is what we call normal pain.
Your body created an unpleasant sensation, emotionally reminding you to avoid doing that again. Why? Because falling down too often is bad for you!
Chronic pain is any pain that's been there for 3 months or more. Interestingly, chronic pain is not an indication of damage to your body. If there's no damage, then what's the big deal about it?
Well, chronic pain is actually a sign that you have a much bigger problem underneath.
The best analogy for this is an iceberg. The visible tip floating on top of the ocean surface represents your chronic pain.
The bottom of the iceberg represents your underlying problem(s). It's not visible to you. You don't even feel it.
But over time it finds a way to creep up to the surface, slowly but surely causing more problems for you.
The True Cost of Chronic Pain
How Chronic Pain Impacts YOU
- Affects your ability to perform simple, everyday tasks.
- Loss of wellbeing & quality of life (can't get enough sleep).
- Unable to participate in sports & social activities important to you.
- Emotional burden for you & the people around you.
- Related to drug dependance & drug-related problems (particularly opioids).
- Can happen at any age (not just elderly).
- Associated with other chronic diseases such as arthritis & depression.
- Inability to work full-time or work at all (job loss).
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Interestingly, chronic pain is actually your nerves becoming oversensitive. Chiropractors call this a subluxation. Subluxations are caused by stress.
You can compare your nerves to electrical wires. They carry important signals around your body, the same way wires carry electrical current required to power up your house.
When your nerves are functioning properly, they are not oversensitive or under-sensitive. Your nerve sensitivity is JUST RIGHT.
When your nerves become oversensitive from stress, chronic pain develops despite having no obvious cause, trauma or damage to your body.
Chronic pain can also develop in multiple parts of your body, sometimes happening at the same time. Learn more about how stress causes chronic pain.
Where do you feel your pain?
Dr Kelvin Chew sees patients with chronic pain in these areas: