Chronic pain is pain that usually persists for months or even years. This type of pain is experienced by nearly 100 million Americans every year. Two of the most common types of chronic pain are lower back pain and headaches. September is Pain Awareness Month, a public awareness campaign launched in 2001 that is led by the American Chronic Pain Association. The goals of Pain Awareness Month are to educate the community on the severity of this health issue, spread awareness about treatment and encourage community members to get involved with pain awareness programs.
It is estimated that nearly 80% of people living in the United States will experience back pain at some point in their lives. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, chronic pain is the number one cause for lost work days. With statistics this high it's important to know what can help reduce long-term pain. Here are some actions you can take to lessen chronic pain:
- Quit smoking
- Eat a healthy diet
- Boost endorphins by exercising
- Reduce stress by deep breathing
If a person experiences chronic pain for a long period of time, they may experience the "terrible triad". Johns Hopkins Medicine explains this as a cycle that starts when chronic pain interferes with their daily activities or work, causing them to become preoccupied with the pain and irritable. These negative, sometimes overwhelming thoughts then lead the person to have insomnia or weariness. The "terrible triad" is a combination of suffering, not sleeping enough, and feelings of sadness. It is important to understand that if you or someone you know is experiencing chronic pain, help is available! Here are a few websites with more information on what chronic pain is, its causes and how it can be alleviated:
Information provided by Sarah Conyers, student intern with Community Outreach at Augusta Health. To contact Dana Breeding, RN, relating to the information in this article or with questions/comments/concerns, please call (540) 332-4988 or (540) 932-4988.