This article will discuss some common types of pain and their causes.
Pain is a universal term that is used to describe discomfort that we are experiencing. Pain can be constant or can come and go. Pain is often categorized as acute or chronic.
There are many terms to describe pain, including: achy; sharp; burning; throbbing; stabbing; piercing; crippling; dull; pinching; heavy; sore; stiff; tight; tender.
Acute pain is pain that persists no longer than 3 to 6 months. Acute pain is used to describe pain from new injuries such as sprains and strains, fractures, muscle pulls, and contusions. Acute pain is normally brought on by a specific disease or injury. Typically, the pain reduces as the injury heals. If the acute pain is not properly managed, it can develop into chronic pain.
Pain that lasts longer than 3-6 months is often described as chronic pain. Chronic pain is related to ongoing tissue injury, or from damage to or dysfunction of parts of the nervous system. Common types of chronic pain include chronic neck and back pain, chronic headache, and chronic pain from arthritis. Chronic pain is pain that persists beyond the normal healing time for that injury. Chronic pain can also be associated with changes in mood, and this can complicate healing process (for example, after a whiplash or car accident injury).
When the symptoms like depression develop with chronic pain, we often call the condition a chronic pain syndrome. Studies have shown that 1 in 4 people will develop a chronic pain syndrome after an injury.
As a chiropractor, I often see patients that develop pain in the neck and back as a result of improper lifting techniques, poor posture while sitting, standing, and sleeping, and poor ergonomics. As a result of the poor posture and ergonomics, abnormal stress is placed on the joints and muscles of the spine and limbs, causing pain.
Before treatment and rehabilitation can begin, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. Your chiropractor will conduct a thorough health history and physical examination to identify your symptoms and make a diagnosis. Chiropractors specialize in diagnosing, treating, and rehabilitating injuries of the spine, muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints, and nerves.
A correct diagnosis is important to rule out more serious conditions that may be causing your symptoms. Your treatment will be determined by the cause of your pain and the type of pain you are experiencing. Your rehabilitation program may include:
- Chiropractic treatments to improve flexibility, balance, and strength of the muscles and ligaments, and restore proper movement to the joints. Laser therapy may help reduce the pain associated with acute and chronic conditions.
- Specific Rehab Program. The source of your pain (disc, joint, muscle) will determine the specific rehabilitation program that you receive. The addition of physiotherapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture to your rehab program may aid in pain relief and speed up the healing process.
- Exercise. Performing specific stretches and strengthening exercises is important for healing and can help prevent the condition from recurring. Your chiropractor will educate you on the best exercises for your specific injury.
- Posture. Techniques to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles, and improve balance and movement can help reduce pain and prevent acute injuries from becoming chronic.
- Multidisciplinary program. For chronic pain syndromes (chronic pain condition with changes in mood) a more comprehensive program may be best to address the physical pain and psychological symptoms. There are many programs available specifically to treat chronic pain syndromes.
Stop the Pain … Before the Pain Stops You!
Dr. Virginia Nsitem is a chiropractor specializing in laser therapy for spine, muscle, joint, and nerve injuries, and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences in Canada. She may be reached at (905) 275-4993, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org