Pain Awareness Month

Pain Awareness Month

Pain is a significant health issue in our country.  There are more patients in the US that suffer from chronic pain than those who suffer from diabetes, cancer and heart disease combined.    Pain is a noxious sensation that indicates tissue damage, injury or disease.  Pain is an important warning sign that something is wrong and in need of attention.  Acute pain is short term and has a defined beginning and end. The cause of the pain is diagnosed, treated and resolved, the pain is alleviated.

Dr Bret WilsonChronic pain persists after the tissue damage, disease or condition has resolved or the source of pain is permanent damage to tissue and cannot be resolved.  The pain can be constant or episodic and recurrent.  The pain becomes the primary condition that is affecting the person’s health and quality of life.   September is Pain Awareness Month and is designed to increase awareness of the cause, prevention and treatment of chronic pain.

There are some common conditions that lead to chronic pain syndromes.  Low back pain is experienced by eight of ten adults in their lifetime.  Back pain can result from injury, mechanical dysfunction, poor posture habits, disc disease and DE-conditioning.  Back pain is one of the most common activity limiting conditions in adults and usually in the top three reasons for seeking health care.  Most back pain resolves quickly (less than 6 weeks) with self-care and or treatment.  However there are estimates that ten to greater than thirty five per cent of low back pain cases become a recurrent and chronic health issue persisting for one year or more. .

Headaches are another form of a painful condition that interferes with daily activity and reduced productivity.  Headaches occur in a variety of forms, causes including migraine. Chronic headache can occur daily and last for years with little or no relief.

Arthritis is a broad category of diseases that attack the joints of the body.  Osteoarthritis is the most common type associated with aging joints.  Osteoarthritis causes degenerative changes to the spine, hips knees and shoulders.   Rheumatoid arthritis is a form of auto immune disease, an abnormal biochemical response by the body to normal tissue, attacking with antibodies, resulting in damage to joints.

Diseases such as cancer, diabetes and circulatory disorders can lead to both acute and chronic pain syndromes.  The pain may result from the disease itself or the treatment of the disease.  Damage to nerves and bone from the surgery, chemotherapy or radiation can linger long after the successful treatment of the cancer.  Chronic pain post-surgery, such as joint replacement of spinal surgery is not uncommon.

Chronic pain is a problem that contains biological, psychological and social aspects.  The disease, injury and tissue damage must be identified and repaired to the fullest extent possible.  The individual perception of pain, how it interferes with their abilities and function’ and the support system they have in place all influence the progression and treatment of the pain.  There are strong psychological effects of chronic pain often leading to clinical depression.  Pain can lead to the vicious cycle of suffering, sleeplessness and sadness.  The person suffers pain and it interferes with his normal life, including disturbed sleep.  There is increased depression (sadness) due to restricted life activity and loss of sleep.  Depression and sleep deprivation increases inflammation leading to more pain and suffering.  In an attempt to break the cycle the patient may try more pain medication, seek additional surgical intervention or other approaches.  Alternatively, the spiraling deeper into depression and may give up on seeking help, resigned to a life of pain and suffering.

Diagnosis can lead to proper treatment.  A thorough evaluation and history of the causes and effects of the pain in the given individual is necessary to determine a treatment plan.  The treatment should involve multiple approaches and disciplines that may include medication, physical medicine, chiropractic, mental emotional counseling, and education in patient self- management of the condition. The treatment should be understood by the patient and monitored in a way that both the providers and the patient can determine progress.   Lifestyle choices that enhance health and fitness can be employed.  Proper diet, exercise, sleep, hydration, stress management, spiritual practice and social interaction.   In chronic pain, when complete resolution of pain is unlikely, the focus turns to management to aid in reducing the severity and frequency of pain, improving the ability to function within tolerable levels of pain and improve quality of life.

Chronic pain is a growing epidemic in our country.  Pain can have devastating effects on activities of daily living, productivity, mental health and social interaction.  Chronic pain sufferers must often ward off their own depression as well as the negative stigma of society.  There is a need for further research into the causes and treatment of chronic pain.  A better understanding through education is needed for doctors, care givers, patients and society to improve outcomes and lessen the burden on us all.

Next month we will explore the role of chiropractic in the treatment of pain.  There is an increasing need for non-drug approaches to reducing pain and improving health.

Yours in Health,

Dr. Bret Wilson

Dr Bret Wilson wants you to move, play and live free from neck and back pain.  For more information about chiropractic, posture, exercise, and how to make better choices about your health visit our website www.bellwestchiro.com.  Find a chiropractor in your area to help you with safe and effective health care.


For more information:

Chronic Pain Awareness Month  –

2010 National Pain Strategy – to increase recognition of pain as a significant public health problem in the United States –