If you're suffering from chronic pain, it's likely that you've tried a variety of treatment options as you search for pain relief. To help you achieve a more manageable pain level, this blog explores a number of insights that might apply to your unique back pain experience.
Sleep problems can worsen pain
The majority of patients with chronic back pain also experience sleep disturbances, which include problems falling asleep and staying asleep.
Disrupted sleep or poor quality sleep further exacerbates the pain problem, creating a vicious cycle of sleeping disorders and worsening pain.
Depression often goes hand-in-hand with chronic pain
Depending on your chronic pain experience (severity, length of time, functional disruption, etc.), you may also experience stress and depression.
An emotional reaction to chronic pain, like depression, is not uncommon, but many patients just assume their depression will subside once the pain goes away. The pain may or may not improve as hoped, and other losses like the inability to do favorite activities or financial distress can aggravate depression further.
It is extremely important to talk about depression with your physician, as untreated depression can worsen pain and slow your healing rate.
Don't ignore discomfort on the job
Workplace ergonomics (or lack thereof) can play a large role in a person's daily pain experience.
Those who spend most of their day sitting, especially office workers, can damage spinal structures and develop/worsen an existing back or neck pain problem. Sitting puts pressure on the back muscles and spinal discs, and those who sit for long periods tend to slouch, which overstretches spinal ligaments and further strains the discs.
If your job involves heavy labor or manual material handling (which includes lifting, climbing, pushing, pulling, and pivoting), there are techniques that you can use in the workplace to prevent/reduce pain and injury.
Injections can provide longer-lasting pain relief
Chronic pain patients may shy away from injections as a treatment option due to a fear of needles. However, for patients with pain that is caused by arthritis, stress, or injury to a joint, injections may be quite effective in reducing pain in as little as 10 days. You may only require three procedures a year in combination with physical therapy.
For patients with leg, hip, buttock, or lower back pain due to the hip joint, a hip joint injection may be appropriate.
For patients with pain caused by the facet joints in the spine, a facet joint injection in the neck, upper back, or lower back may help reduce pain.
You may be a candidate for surgery
Patients suffering from chronic lower back pain due to disc degeneration (a condition called degenerative disc disease) may be candidates for newer spinal fusion surgery methods or artificial disc replacement.
Modern lumbar fusions can be done from the front (anterior) or using an anterior/posterior approach, rather than from the back, to achieve greater stability than older fusion methods.
A smaller subset of patients may be candidates for artificial disc replacement.
Chronic pain often severely impacts a patient's quality of life. Negative effects don't only come from the chronic pain itself, as it can affect sleep and mental health as well.
All aspects of the chronic pain problem need to be treated in order to most effectively treat a patient's chronic pain. Patients should work in conjunction with their physicians to ensure their chronic pain is treated comprehensively and with the most appropriate and current techniques available.