Many people across the nation deal with some form of chronic pain on a regular basis. Traditional pain management methods may not be as effective for them. This can be a result of having experienced an injury, having surgery, or undergoing treatment for a cancer diagnosis. Chronic pain can last beyond three months and can take a major toll on one’s mental health and overall quality of life.
When an individual struggles with such chronic pain for an extended period of time, it can really impact their ability to function. They can become frustrated and disheartened when treatment methods don’t seem to work out as they hoped. Many people turn to substance misuse as a way to cope with chronic pain. This is part of the reason why proper pain management is so important during recovery.
Understanding Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is different than other sources of pain. In most cases, when you experience a minor injury such as a cut on the skin, it will heal over time. Even broken bones repair themselves through proper treatment. But in the case of chronic pain, the symptoms continue even after the healing process is over.
Chronic pain can come in a lot of different forms; sometimes, medical professionals can’t even point to a specific reason why it is happening. Some forms in which chronic pain is experienced include the following:
- Different types of joint pain
- Ongoing migraines that are resistant to treatment
- Muscle pain
- Back pain
- Head or neck pain
- Pain related to scar tissue
There are a lot of reasons why chronic pain can occur. For example, a bone might not have healed in a proper place. Or you may have a certain condition or disease that is causing these symptoms to occur. Some of the different ways that you may experience chronic pain include:
Different Ways That Chronic Pain Can Affect an Individual
Chronic pain can make it difficult or impossible for you to complete even the most basic activities during the day. For example, getting out of bed or taking a shower can be difficult. Some people may find it challenging to keep up with their children, keep their house clean, or prepare meals for themselves without help.
Others might have to take time off of work because their chronic pain is too much to bear. This can lead to other issues like financial hardship, unemployment, and even more serious problems.
Some people who struggle with chronic pain are former military personnel. These people could have sustained lasting mental and physical injury while on active duty. They could be struggling with multiple issues at once, including chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This can make them even more vulnerable to substance misuse.
Perhaps one of the most significant dangers of unmanaged chronic pain is the toll it can take on a person mentally. When you are constantly dealing with this problem, you may have to rely upon others to help you do things you could once do for yourself. This can lead to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and for some, even thoughts of self-harm.
Pain Management in Recovery
Pain management plays a very complicated and important role in recovery from addiction for several reasons. Many people who struggle with chronic pain were originally prescribed strong narcotic medications to manage their pain. However, over time, they may find that they built up a tolerance to the drugs and are no longer experiencing the same relief that they once were. As a result, they may take more and more of the medication until they become dangerously addicted.
This is often how individuals end up accidentally addicted to powerful painkillers such as opioids. These narcotics are intended to treat severe pain, but because of their addictiveness, in many situations, they are not viewed as a safe, long-term solution. Other medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs and topical products that do not include significant addictive qualities, are often preferred. One of the reasons why pain management is so important in recovery is that treatment providers don’t want their patients to end up becoming addicted to a different substance while trying to recover from another.
If you’re struggling with chronic pain, there are even some additional treatment methods that you can consider. Certain therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), physical therapy, occupational therapy, and professional counseling may help provide relief. Some people have also found success in dealing with chronic pain through things like aromatherapy, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, and meditation.
There are certain lifestyle changes that you may also consider. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep and allowing your body to heal. You’ll also want to make sure your diet is consisting of healthy, non-inflammatory foods, as these can exacerbate pain levels.
When you’ve been struggling with chronic pain for an extended period of time, you may feel a sense of hopelessness. While turning to substance misuse to cope with the pain may seem like a quick fix, it won’t solve the real problem at hand. Don’t feel like you have to suffer alone; reach out to your primary care provider and see what alternative treatment options they may recommend. If you’re currently struggling with substance misuse, our team at The Ho Tai Way can help. Call (714) 581-3974 today to learn more about the different types of treatment that we provide. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.