Chronic pain related disorders

Pain is common

Majority of clinic visits in to a general physician are for longstanding headache, backaches, joint pains and chest discomfort; pain anywhere in the body. Pain is a neurological symptom that has medical causes and demands specific medical treatment. Many varieties of arthritis, degenerative illnesses, migraine, muscle spasms; all are associated with longstanding pain. However any pain that lasts more than 3 months certainly develops psychological contributions. Such pain is medically understood as chronic pain.

Facts about pain

A very interesting fact about pain (which also makes it complicated) is that all physicians feel that patients tend to exaggerate complaints of pain. This has a strong subjective emotional component. Any pain can never completely somatic or psychic, it is always psychosomatic. A soldier on the battlefield does not feel the pain of 5 bullets in his abdomen until the time he has reached the hospital bed. Then the pain is excruciating, unbearable and unreal (rightly so). Nerve fibres that carry pain signals to the brain are filtered through emotional centres. That is how emotions modulate pain. When one is happy, pain of arthritis doesn’t hurt much.

Symbolic pain

Empirically it has been observed that specific areas of the body have symbolic correlations with pain that arises in them. A housewife, who is feeling bogged down by her daily routine, several hours of household work, pressures from the family, worries about the children and financial stressors; commonly develops a chronic headache. This pain is localized to the area above the forehead and is expressed a constant heaviness (like all the pressures of the world thrown on her head). Likewise a 19 year old boy who has just broken up with his girlfriend, feels a constant pressure and tightness in his chest, giving him restlessness, fear of a heart problem; and chest pain. His heart is truly ‘broken’ and gives him unexplained pain. The office executive working for 11 hours on his seat, bearing the load of his family responsibility may feel over stressed and develops a chronic backache. He is the beast of burden who has the world’s load on his back that unquestionably gives him pain.

Pain and Emotion

Pain signals are influenced by emotions and thoughts, which in turn influence neurological transmission and alter the pain experience. Internal analgesics in the body like endorphins are released in times of pleasure and happiness. That explains why one feels less pain when one is happy. The cycle is true in reverse too. Sadness accentuates physical perception of pain while pain precipitates depression.

Pain and psychopathology

Any chronic pain condition triggers irritability, anger, frustration and resentment. It leads to a complete change in one’s outlook towards things. Because it is enduring and constant, it ends up becomes nagging and irksome. The person in pain becomes ‘painful’ to have around. The bitterness of the pain spills into the individual’s personality and behavior. Life was not intended to be painful (literally or metaphorically). Psychogenic pain and physical discomfort together create a vicious cycle of suffering. The loop needs to be broken.

Pain management

Pain is agonizing and ought to be treated delicately. Medications can control inflammation, however pain pathways are pretty complex and medications fail to act in many of these. Yoga or meditation for instance can release endorphins that block the pain signals in the spinal pathway. Scientific evidence has endorsed this repeatedly. At MINDFRAMES we adopt psychotherapy techniques to manage chronic pain and the negative emotional experience associated with it. Systematic relaxation techniques and biofeedback help in easing muscle tension and lactate build-up that is responsible for accentuating pain. One needs to learn how to alleviate one’s own pain a cope with it. Life ought to be pain free.

Types of pain conditions

Many conditions may be associated with chronic, persisting and debilitating pain

  • Longstanding arthritis
  • Different neuralgias
  • Chronic lower backache
  • Cancer related pain
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Fibromyalgic pain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Nueropathy (eg. diabetes)
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Pain of chronic tendinitis

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the perception of pain influenced by the mental status of the sufferer?
Pain is a neurological symptom which is caused by activation of the nerve endings that carry signals of pain to the brain. However, the perception of pain in the brain can be influenced by emotional states. Depression and a pessimistic attitude can aggravate pain.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will medication help chronic longstanding pain?
Some medicines act on the nerve endings which are responsible for sending pain signals; some alter the transmission of these signals, while some decrease the chemicals that are responsible for producing pain. All these medicines help in pain reduction and are different from the typical pain killers that are used in treating pain.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can yoga decrease pain?
Yoga and meditation promote the release of endorphins which act as the body’s natural painkillers. Hence, all chronic pain conditions respond very well to yoga and meditation due to this natural pain killer response of analgesia.