- 3 out of 10 adults suffer from chronic pain in France.
- Pain is subjective. Nevertheless, tools allow to evaluate it. Pain questionnaires and scales make it possible to describe pain and measure its intensity as well as its impact on quality of life.
- According to an Ifop/Inserm/Ensemble contre les rhumatismes survey carried out in 2016, more than 1 in 2 French people suffer from osteoarthritis pain and 1/3 of 18-24 year olds suffer from joint pain.
Shoulders, knees, back, muscles, finger joints… Pain can set in anywhere, and especially stay there if not treated. Unfortunately, this happens often.
“People can overlook the occasional sharp pain associated with age and learn to live with it”says Dr. Edgar Ross, a clinician at the Pain Management Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Harvard facility.
“However, ignoring any level of pain often leads to more serious problems that become difficult to treat and manage.”regrets the expert.
When do we talk about chronic pain?
Acute pain is usually the result of damage to body tissue. This can come from a physical trauma, such as a sports injury, a fracture, a medical procedure, or even a home accident, such as stubbing your toe, cutting yourself. This pain usually goes away within a few days or a few weeks maximum.
We talk about chronic pain when it has been present for at least two months, long after the injury or illness has healed. Its symptoms and severity vary from person to person. It looks like dull pain, burns, puncture wounds, a feeling of electric shock, tingling or numbness.
“Chronic pain can be related to ongoing tissue damage or inflammation, as in arthritis. But more often than not, long-lasting pain signals come from the brain even when nociceptive pain has disappeared. The brain itself has been rewired to feel pain even in the absence of active involvement of body tissues .”explains Harvard on its website.
How to stop the pain before it becomes chronic?
Without proper attention and care, acute pain can become chronic. Dr. Edgar Ross shares 3 tips to prevent it from continuing:
- Seek help: Injuries can become ongoing problems because the patient has not dealt with the problem quickly. “People think they can live with it, or they change their lifestyle to accommodate the pain, so they don’t get proper treatment”explains the healthcare staff.
- Overcoming fear of treatment: “Sometimes people need regular movement, exercise or physical therapy as part of treating their acute pain, but because it can hurt or be uncomfortable to do, they avoid it. Which can make their pain condition worse. “warns the doctor.
- Don’t ignore pain: The best way to prevent acute pain from becoming chronic is to confront it head on. “Don’t ignore it. Seek medical attention and follow proper pain management, whether it’s heat and ice therapy, physical therapy, medication, rest, or a combination.”advisor Dr. Ross. “The longer your acute pain goes on without proper treatment, the more likely it is to become chronic”he adds.