i have had 1 hip, 1 knee replacement and 1 back surgery. i have another knee i have had 2 rounds of halogen shots. i exercise 45 to 60 minutes daily. the biggest help i got was from a physical therapist who gave me several lower back, hip, hamstring and knee stretches to do. i do them every day and it has greatly improved my life. i am 70.
Dealing with chronic pain
By news-medical.net — From news-medical.net August 11, 2011 3,198 6 4
For people with severe chronic pain like Kelly Young and Teresa Shaffer—both of whom have become patient advocates —coping with agony is a fact of life. Young suffers from rheumatoid arthritis while Shaffer's pain is linked primarily to another degenerative bone disease.
Chronic pain is one of the most difficult—and common—medical conditions. Estimated to affect 76 million Americans—more than diabetes, cancer and heart disease combined—it accompanies illnesses and injuries ranging from cancer to various forms of arthritis, multiple sclerosis and physical trauma.
Pain is defined as chronic when it persists after an injury or illness has otherwise healed, or when it lasts three months or longer. The experience of pain can vary dramatically, depending in part on whether it is affecting bones, muscles, nerves, joints or skin. Untreated pain can itself become a disease when the brain wrongly signals agony when there is no new injury or discernable other cause. Fibromyalgia— a disease in which pain in joints, muscles and other soft tissues is the primary symptom—is believed to be linked to incorrect signaling in the brain's pain regions.
Finding a Doctor
The first step to deal with chronic pain is to find a physician or medical team who can accurately diagnose your condition and work with you to lessen pain.
"It's not easy," says Shaffer, "You have to find someone [with whom you can] build a relationship of trust and open communication."
Dr. Russell Portenoy, chairman of pain medicine and palliative care at Beth Israel Medical Center, agrees. "You need to identify someone with a high level of knowledge and competence, good communication skills and a network of professionals with whom they work, someone who has compassion," he says.
Dr. Paul Christo, director of the multidisciplinary pain fellowship program at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, also suggests looking for someone who has completed at least a year-long certification in pain management. This information can usually be obtained on the doctor's website or by asking about his or her qualifications.
Experts agree that comprehensive care—which can involve medications, exercise, psychological therapy, massage, physical therapy, injections and complementary treatments, depending on the patient and condition—is essential.
"The reason we now call chronic pain an illness is that we recognize that it is more than just a sensation in the body," Portenoy says, "It affects your ability to function as a human being, your relationships, your ability to be productive, to think straight."
Unfortunately, because they have so often been dismissed as having a problem that's "all in your head," many people with chronic pain resist considering talk therapy as a part of treatment.
"A lot of people have the misconception that what I'm telling them [when recommending therapy] is that their pain is a figment of their imagination," Christo says. "That's not what we mean. Pain has such an emotional component and psychotherapy is extremely useful in terms of helping patients reorganize and rethink how they interpret it and how it affects their lives."
Says Shaffer, "Pain encompasses the entire person. It's not just in your leg or back. It encompasses the entire being of who you are and what you can do and don't do. So physically, mentally psychologically: you have to take care of all of those things."