Chronic Pain Management
- Understand Pain's Causes
Chronic pain management starts with knowing what pain is. Pain is defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) as "an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage." That's probably much more technical than we need. We all know what pain is, we just want to find quick relief from it. For the purposes of this website it is not necessary to understand all the technical aspects of pain. What we need is some clear thinking and simple logic. Since chronic pain management or overcoming or any problem is helped by understanding it; you will benefit from reading this page.
Pain is a Signal
Pain is generated in reaction to something that is harming the body. It is a signal to remove the source of pain (usually acute or short-term) or make changes in lifestyle that will, in time, remove the pain (usually chronic or long-term). Pain is used by the body to warn you to cease an activity or make some kind of change. You wouldn't disconnect your car's low oil pressure gauge when it comes on. Pay attention. Chronic pain management requires that we recognize that pain is a signal that something is wrong.
Get a Diagnosis
If you are at this site because you are looking for natural methods of chronic pain management, you may not be very favorable towards the medical system and their treatments. But remember, your doctor or naturopath has means of diagnosis that you don't have. When something is wrong you first need a diagnosis if it is not obvious what the problem is. The bad news as far as your doctor and pain management is revealed by this statistic: "A study done last year reports that in the average Canadian medical school, students study pain management for 16 hours. Vet students spend 87 hours on it." (MacLean's Magazine, May 12, 2008)
The Distinction Between Diagnosis and Cause
People do not always make the distinction between the diagnosis and the cause of their condition. Just because you have the diagnosis doesn't mean you know the cause. Diseases don't just happen. There is always a reason. Knowing the true cause makes chronic pain management possible. Let's consider a couple of examples:
Say you have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. That is the diagnosis but you still don't have the cause. The cause of your pain is not rheumatoid arthritis. That is just a term for a particular set of symptoms. If your doctor's recommendation for chronic pain management is that you take Tylenol, you need to keep in mind that your condition and the pain is not caused by a deficiency of Tylenol. There is a cause for your condition and it is not a lack of drugs.
Or let's say your symptoms are tiredness, extreme thirst and a frequent urge to urinate. Your doctor tells you that you have type 2 diabetes (diagnosis) and gives you a prescription for Metformin (treatment). Realize that the cause has not yet been found and you will not be able to achieve chronic pain management or prevent or future pain from your condition until you know the cause. Understand that the cause was not a deficiency of Metformin. I have had people who are on Metformin or other diabetes medications tell me that their diabetes is under control. What they mean is that their blood sugar is not going sky-high. But if their diabetes was truly under control they would not be on drugs for it and they would not have any symptoms.
When you know the cause of your condition and associated pain, you can take action, make changes and begin to reverse the condition and alleviate the pain.
The description of many disorders say, "no known cure." But often this is said in terms of medical science which tends to look for a drug to relieve the problem. Since there is always a cause, there is always a solution and, in many cases chronic pain management is as simple as removing the cause which is usually related to some aspect of lifestyle. Sometimes it is difficult to know the cause because there are many factors involved just as there are many lifestyle factors.
The good news is that your body is designed for health and is self-healing. In the vast majority of cases, change the conditions causing the problem and it goes away. Isn't that logical? Yet in our modern medical system, how often do we prescribe a drug as though the condition was caused by its deficiency? And then, in many cases patients are told they will have to always be on the medication.
Finding the Cause When the Diagnosis is not Obvious
Say you are just always very tired with low level aches and pains. You have been to your doctor and complained numerous times and he has looked for a disease as the cause. He has checked your iron and determined that you are not anemic. He has checked your blood sugar and determined that you are not hypoglycemic. Numerous tests have not come up with anything that he can put a name to.
If he did find, for example, that you were hypoglycemic what he has found is really a symptom (low blood sugar), not a cause. Something you did (perhaps over a span of years) has resulted in changes in your body such that it developed the symptom of low blood sugar. In many cases, our aches and pains come from our poor health habits. One or more aspects of our lifestyle may be the problem but how do we identify which one? That can be very difficult.
Finding the Weak Point
Here is a way to help identify areas in our life that we might be able to change to improve our life and health. Imagine a barrel made of separate staves, some being longer than others. Imagine that the amount of water this barrel holds equates to your level of health. The level of water in the barrel will be determined by the length of the shortest stave. If each of those staves represents an area of your health, you can see that if you are doing very poorly in one area it will have the greatest effect. In fact, in may be the limiting factor in how good your health can be. Rather than the staves representing each of the myriad of health problems you could have (symptoms), we can use them to represent the major areas of lifestyle (causes) ? things that you can do something about. Because we really want to find the cause so that we can eliminate the symptoms.
For instance, if you drink very little water, your chronic state of dehydration will give you poor health even if you are eating well, getting regular exercise and doing very well in other areas. The best thing you could do to improve your health and achieve chronic pain management in that case would be to drink more water. When that problem is corrected you may find that the tiredness and those vague aches and pains start improving. Then you can reexamine your "barrel" and identify another area that may be the new limiting factor in your quality of life.
Now can you see that the eight natural doctors
described on this site
become important? If drinking enough water is your weak point (your shortest stave in the barrel) consult
for the information you need. In fact, read through the advice of each of the eight natural doctors and you may identify a number of changes you could make to improve your health and reduce the frequency and severity of episodes of pain.
What if I Don't Know Which Area I am Weak In?
It may not be obvious what your weak area is or there may be a few that are about equally weak. Simply read through each of the lifestyle areas and see what stands out for you - things that you realize you might need to adjust. As you think about it and start making changes, it may become more obvious what you need to do.
Drugs Never Cure
If you are looking to drugs for chronic pain management, you should know that while it may remove pain there is a price to pay when you only remove the symptoms without addressing the cause. The drug never cures anything. A drug is the automotive equivalent of disconnecting the wire to your low engine oil pressure light when it lights up on the dash of your car. Here is a definition of a drug that follows this concept:
A drug is anything that brings relief without requiring obedience to the natural laws of health.
Any relief you might obtain from drugs is usually only temporary, often comes with side effects and never addresses the real cause of the pain. Headaches are not caused by a lack of aspirin.
Only your body can heal diseases. The object of this site is to help you identify lifestyle and other factors that can help deal with the causes of disease to improve your health and achieve truly effective chronic pain management.
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