September is Pain Awareness Month

Self-management is an effective non-medical therapy for chronic pain.

There is no absolute definition of pain. Pain is subjective, personal and individual. As anyone with chronic back, joint pain or fibromyalgia can attest there may not be a single test that can measure the depth of pain. And, in some cases the cause of the chronic pain is unknown.

Chronic illness can also trigger chronic pain. Since pain can occur in any part of the body patients are often seeing multiple providers to treat chronic conditions. Patient input and good communication with providers are necessary when working towards pain management. It is important that you discuss your chronic pain history with your health care provider.

According to the National Institute of Health, chronic pain is:

  • Often defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks. Whereas acute pain is a normal sensation that alerts us to possible injury, chronic pain is very different. Chronic pain persists—often for months or even longer.
  • May arise from an initial injury, such as a back sprain, or there may be an ongoing cause, such as illness. However, there may also be no clear cause. Other health problems, such as fatigue, sleep disturbance, decreased appetite, and mood changes, often accompany chronic pain. Chronic pain may limit a person’s movements, which can reduce flexibility, strength, and stamina. This difficulty in carrying out important and enjoyable activities can lead to disability and despair.

There are both medical and nonmedical treatments for chronic pain

Anyone who lives with chronic pain or cares for someone living with chronic pain understands its challenges. The goal when treating chronic pain is to allow suffers to regain quality of life and be as ‘pain-free’ as possible. Managing pain rather than alleviating all pain for some is the only option. Chronic pain stemming from physical ailments, due to an accident, or simply brought on by aging may not be curable, but can be managed successfully.

The National Institute of Health & Friends of the National Library of Medicine offers the following pain management options:

Michigan State University Extension offers chronic disease self-management programs. For more information on chronic pain resources and community-based self-management programs contact your local MSU Extension county office or visit Michigan State University Extension.

Additional chronic pain resources:

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