You had surgery for an ankle injury years ago, but something’s never felt right after you healed. Mild, random pain cropped up occasionally, but now it’s constant, daily, and makes it hard to walk sometimes. But is an old ankle injury really the cause? It’s possible you have chronic pain.
What is Chronic Pain?
“Chronic pain is pain that is ongoing and usually lasts longer than six months. This type of pain can continue even after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or gone away. Pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months or years. Some people suffer chronic pain even when there is no past injury or apparent body damage.” It’s hard living with chronic pain, but some medicine makes it possible.
Who Develops Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain can affect anyone. Here are facts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- In 2019, 20.4% of adults experienced chronic pain
- Chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain go higher as you age and were greatest among adults older than 65
- Non-Hispanic white adults were more prone to getting chronic pain compared to non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic Asian adults
- People in rural areas have higher cases of chronic pain than others
Ketamine for Chronic Pain
When ketamine was introduced in the early 1960s, it was used primarily as a pre-surgical anesthetic. But it soon became apparent the medicine had other value, helping to curb symptoms related to mental illness and chronic pain disorders that were normally unresponsive to other treatment. Why it works quickly and effectively is open for debate, but it may have something to do with how ketamine strengthens or repairs damaged neurotransmitters (like glutamate) in the brain.
Supporting Someone with Chronic Pain
Watching someone you love struggle with chronic pain is hard, but it’s much worse for the person affected by the symptoms. In some ways, managing chronic pain or other illnesses is a cooperative effort. Here are several ways you can support someone with chronic pain.
- Gather as much data as possible. Learn about chronic pain so you’re in a better place to help. Knowledge offers the best chance of understanding their symptoms and to decide where you might be able to help.
- How someone with chronic pain reacts to your entreaties isn’t their fault, and you have to realize that. Most people naturally want to help someone else in pain, but for someone with chronic pain, the randomness of their pain makes it hard to accommodate visitors. Even though your request for a visit is turned down, the reality – their desire – could be entirely different.
- Accept that pain exists and that it’s not your fault – or the person suffering from the pain condition, either. There’s no room for guilt, anger, or blame. A loving, supportive environment is best for everyone involved. Acknowledge the present reality so you can cope together.
- Be inquisitive. Ask how you can help. Chronic pain symptoms vary by person, so whereas one day your loved one may accept help, but feel able to do something themselves the next day. Keep the communication lines open, so you understand their feelings, what they’re going through, and how to stay on the same page.
- Put in a few good words about healthy eating habits. Suggest foods that are rich in zinc, selenium, iron, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E – including whole fruits, deep green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.
- Encourage exercise and the power of positive thinking. Simple aerobics, stretching and strengthening exercises, and daily walking may help.
- Offer to help your friend or loved one make a doctor’s appointment if needed and provide transportation to and from.
Diagnosing & Treating Chronic Pain
If you suffer from chronic pain, it’s not unusual for your healthcare provider to suggest tests and diagnostic procedures to uncover the source of the pain if possible. A medical doctor may recommend tests like x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, computer tomography scans, questions about your pain, blood work, neurological tests, and others as needed. Depending on your state of mental health, your healthcare provider may refer you to a mental health specialist for a psychiatric evaluation.
Chronic pain symptoms can sometimes be treated with physical or psychotherapy, over-the-counter pain medicine or topical ointments, alternative therapy, or ketamine infusion.
Millions of U.S. adults suffer from chronic pain, many struggling in silence with symptoms they deal with on a daily basis. If this sounds like you, don’t let chronic pain control your life. Even if the cause is unknown, certain kinds of therapy like ketamine or other medicine may help. Contact us today to learn more.