Pain is natural. It’s our body’s response to both external and internal events. It’s our survival mechanism allowing us to respond to injury.
The psychological component of chronic pain is well documented. In fact pain itself has both physiological and psychological components. Pain is believed to be perceived and felt in the brain. The “gate” theory of pain is detailed and vast. mypainweb “links” can provide more specifics on how we feel pain.
One of the challenges is diagnosing the cause of pain. In the case of chronic pain affecting the low back, an MRI or CT scan may reveal a herniated disc irritating a nerve root which can be the cause of pain. Appropriate treatment(s) would be taken to resolve this particular issue, to reduce pain and restore function.
Psychogenic pain (pain with no apparent physical cause) would indicate that the experience of pain where the psychological component is predominate. In other words, the source of the pain is not readily observable through the use of diagnostic tools such as x ray, MRI, or CT Scan, etc. Psychogenic pain is, nonetheless, real pain.
Chronic pain can be caused by ongoing tissue damage, such as a herniated disc, or osteoarthritis. However, in some cases no physical cause for the pain can be found (psychogenic pain). It’s also possible that pain persists long after the injury has healed. In many cases chronic pain is a disorder in itself rather than being the symptom of a disease process (fibromyalgia, RSD, CRPS).
At the cellular level, several processes can contribute to pain becoming chronic:
- Pain receptors and neurons along the pain pathway may become too easily activated.
- Connections between the neurons in the pathway can be altered.
- The brain and spinal cord may fail to dampen down the pain signals.
- Pain receptors that are normally silent (dormant) can become activated by inflammation.
- After nerve injury, nerves may regrow but function abnormally.
Chronic pain can persist for months or even years after an initial injury and can be difficult to treat.
People with chronic pain may experience devastating psychological effects:
- fear of further injury
- substance abuse (prescription pain medications and/or alcohol)
- overall health/fitness decline; high blood pressure, and weight fluctuations
Depression is one of the most common, and potentially dangerous complications of chronic illness. It’s understandable to become depressed when faced with a chronic illness. If the depression should last for more than a few months, it should be treated as a separate illness.
As early as 1684, Dr. Thomas Willis wrote of the “sadness, or long sorrow” that accompanies many chronic illnesses. Today we know the link between depression and chronic illness is a two way street. Chronic illnesses are depressing. And the depression they cause often exacerbates the illness.
Chronic pain and depression will also negatively affect family relationships, friendships along with the ability to work. The painweb becomes further complicated leaving almost nothing recognizable in life to the individual.
Soon, the painweb will weave through the remaining core components which define who we are in life: self-esteem, dignity and self-worth.
The final strand is the realization that the person looking back from the mirror is completely unrecognizable and foreign. Nothing is familiar, nothing is friendly, nothing is loved. You become totally disconnected.
It’s no surprise that suicide rates, divorce rates, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and disability run very high among those living with chronic pain.
Click on Chronic Pain is Difficult to Treat to learn more.
How do I know this? I’ve experienced it.
What did I do? I saw mypainweb for the very first time. For the first time I was able to see all the strands of my painweb, and how mypainweb was controlling every facet of my life. This was understanding. This was clarity. This was my first connect, or in a sense, a reconnect to my self.
As a I reconnected to the loved ones around me, and with those who cared about me, I could could see how they too benefited from learning about mypainweb.
I realized the complication and strength of mypainweb could no longer be fought by me alone. I had to connect, and in some instances reconnect to others for help.
I started to use my time, resources and the little strength I had to find effective, qualified professionals, that once I made the connection, we made mutual commitments to help each other’s efforts.
Who did I reach out to connect to?
It’s not easy. Many times the first connect was discouraging because the professional & I were not on the same team. When I realized this, I left and searched for another. At times, this cycle continued to the point where I felt no one could help. Eventually I connected to professionals that seemed to really care and make a difference.
The more I understood mypainweb, the more effectively & intelligently I could communicate with these professionals. In return, the professional care I received was more targeted & appropriate.
It was soon after I realized that these professionals were treating me with some dignity and respect because I was able to understand more of mypainweb and communicate what I needed, and what I expected.
There is no return to a life that was once so full of vitality, independence, strength, and satisfaction. Mypainweb ensnared every aspect of that past life almost succeeding in taking my life itself.
Today, I use mypainweb to help me manage my life with some dignity and quality while coping with my chronic pain.
I AM IN CHARGE, NOT mypainweb. I am calling the shots and so will you.