What is Chronic Pain and what do I really need to know about it?
“Chronic pain is a disease that affects more people than heart disease, diabetes and cancer combined, and yet we spend only a small portion of the budget of the National Institutes of Health on understanding its cause or how to treat it…” — SEAN MACKEY (Chief of Stanford University’s Division of Pain Management from Los Angeles Times, June 29, 2011)
No one wants to have to think about pain but if you suffer from ongoing pain or someone you care about does then it’s good to have at least a basic understanding about what chronic pain is, when it can be eliminated and when you may have to live with it and exactly how to get rid of it when you can.
The word “chronic” basically means something that lasts a long time as opposed to just a short time. It varies, but in medicine the cut off tends to be 3 months. So, chronic pain is pain that lasts for 3 months or more. It may be constant or intermittent but, overall, it’s been going on for at least 3 months.
Acute means short term…typically 6 weeks or less. Acute pain tends to resolve within 6 weeks or less. Acute pain is usually caused by a self-limiting process like an injury or an infection that responds to treatment. It lasts for a while but then it’s gone.
Just to confuse things, there is also sub-acute pain. This pain lasts longer than acute pain but not as long as chronic pain. Acute pain lasts more than 6 weeks but less than 3 months.
For the purposes of Zero Pain Now we lump sub-acute pain and chronic pain together, considering any pain that lasts longer than 6 weeks to be chronic. This is important because any pain that has lasted less than 6 weeks may still resolve on it’s own or with appropriate treatment for acute pain. But once pain has lasted more than 6 weeks, it’s more likely that there is a cause that won’t respond to typical acute pain treatments.
It’s also very important to distinguish 2 different types of chronic pain – Organic Chronic Pain vs. Non-Organic (Functional) Chronic Pain. Organic pain has a true physical, structural or physiological cause. Examples of this type of chronic pain include pain from cancer(the pain is from cancer cells being where they shouldn’t be), pain from gout (the pain is from crystals building up in joints or pain from severe hypothyroidism (the pain is from severely under active thyroid hormone levels). Unfortunately, this type of pain does not usually respond to the Zero Pain Now Process.
But fortunately, the vast majority of chronic pain syndromes fall into the other category – pain that is non-organic or “functional” in it’s cause. This means that, while the pain is real, the root cause of this type of pain is emotional, not physical. It’s what we call a psycho physical process. Stress, tension and emotions lead to changes in the brain that lead to changes in the body that lead to physical pain and other physical symptoms. But the actual cause is psychological, not medical or physical.
This is great news if you suffer from that type of chronic pain because it’s actually very easy to eliminate the pain once and for all if you know the correct techniques.
For more information about this type of chronic pain, go to the Page entitled Diversion Pain Syndrome.
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