Many people believe that pain is just one of the normal parts of aging. Nothing could be further from the truth! And since pain is such a subjective and personal experience, it is often not recognized as well as other symptoms that we can objectively measure, like heart rate or blood pressure.
But make no mistake, no one should experience chronic pain without telling their doctor or caregiver.
This article talks about how to begin to take action on reducing chronic pain and getting the most out of life.
Identifying Chronic Pain Is Important – for You and Loved Ones!
Pain is debilitating, both physically and mentally. Limited movement, avoiding activities we enjoy, falls, depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and isolation are just some of the problems we experience when we are in pain. But being in pain doesn’t just affect us. It affects our relationships with family, friends, and coworkers too.
There really is no single definition of chronic pain, but the best measuring stick we can provide is that, “any pain that lasts longer than it would normally take to heal.” The maximum is about twelve weeks. This pain is often associated with an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience and may or may not have an identifiable cause or actual tissue damage.
Chronic pain is associated with 10 common health conditions
There are many causes of pain. Trauma and many diseases are associated with pain, plus emotional factors can cause pain and often make pain worse. It really is a complex process and the solutions are not always easy. Some common diseases that are associated with pain are listed below:
- Skin – ulcers, burns, other skin disorders
- Gastrointestinal – constipation, irritable bowel disease, diverticulitis
- Heart – heart disease, and peripheral vascular disease
- Lungs – chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia
- Bones & Joints – arthritis, gout, spinal stenosis, low back pain
- Hormones – diabetes
- Kidneys – bladder problems, end-stage kidney disease
- Immune system – herpes, HIV and AIDS-related complications
- Mental health issues
Pain is personal, and it should be shared
If the pain just won’t go away, let your caregiver know. And let your doctor know. Your doctor has many ways to assess and treat your pain. Some things to expect when having your pain assessed are:
- A history of your pain – including details about the pain itself, how it affects your mood, well-being, and your ability to function daily. Does it affect your sleep, do you have any thoughts or ideas about the pain and treatment. What do you do to cope with the pain? And what are your expectations and goals with treatment?
- A full physical examination
- Laboratory testing and Imaging studies
The important thing here is to communicate and let others know how you are feeling. Since pain is so personal, how you feel about your pain is what’s important, and nobody can tell you how you should think or feel. Doing so can help you, and it can help the people who love you.
12 Ways to Heal Chronic Pain
Here are just a few steps you can take to turn the volume down on your pain, and turn the volume up on life.
- Listen to our bodies – acknowledge how we feel
- Communicate – let others know
- Hot and Cold therapy – heating pads, warm showers and baths, ice
- Keep physically active – walking, swimming, yoga
- Physical therapy
- Chiropractic treatment
- Mental health care
- Education – continue to learn about our minds and bodies
- Surgical treatments
Chronic pain is not part of the normal aging process. It is a common condition among seniors that touches on so many areas of life. If we can recognize it and let others know our thoughts and feelings surrounding the issue, we have a chance at a more fulfilling and enjoyable life.