Pain is not just a physical sensation, but a psychological experience.
We most recognise pain as being an unpleasant and emotional experience in our bodies, but it is also a psychological experience in the brain as well.
Chronic pain is quite different, it is persistent and long-lived which makes it harder to control with medication.
According to the British Pain Society a 2005 Pain Survey found that nearly a 3rd of people over 65 experience pain every day or most days. It is more common in women due to hormones and also because a number of the conditions that lead to chronic pain affect more women than men.
Back pain is the fifth most common reason for people to see their GP and is most common in older people and is the leading cause of disability in the UK.
Arthritis is another common complaint through wear and tear of the joints and can affect around 24% of people. The most common form is in the knees and hips.
Chronic pain effects everyone in different ways. It’s a personal thing, no-one knows just how much pain you are in, nor understands how overwhelming it can be.
By itself, pain can suppress the immune system and can encourage the growth of some forms of cancer. It can affect many body functions including back pain.
You can never get ‘used’ to pain and chronic pain is quite different from acute pain. You can also feel hopeless, helpless, distressed and depressed when suffering from chronic pain. Everyone around you will have got used to your ‘look of pain’ in your eyes and sympathy will be far and few between.
They say that depression is a normal response to chronic pain, but you can get help for this. What you must remember is that chronic pain itself can also cause fatigue, difficulties concentrating or changes in appetite.
If chronic pain is not treated it can lead to central nervous system hypersensitivity and muscle tightness, which will then just create more pain.
Only you can judge how much pain you are in, and if others disagree, you should not suffer because of that.
Never give up hope that you cannot get help with your pain, feeling more positive can activate your own body’s opioid system, which can have a beneficial effect on your pain.