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Nov 15, 2013

Targeting the Source: Hope for Sufferers of Chronic Pain


Targeting the Source: Hope for Sufferers of Chronic Pain

According to statistics over 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Patients with symptoms of chronic pain are seen by clinicians across multiple clinical settings; and come with pain complaints that rate from moderate to severe.

This chronic pain can be persistent and often interferes in the daily routine of the sufferer, causing disability, psychological distress (anxiety, depression), and problems with sleep deprivation. However, there is hope, people with chronic pain can live happy lives without suffering.

Two Types of Pain

There are 2 kinds of pain: acute and chronic. Acute pain alerts the body that there is a problem/impairment in the system; if this problem resolves—the pain goes away.

Acute pain is a important, because it serves as a protective mechanism that permits us to live in an environment with potential dangers.

Chronic pain, on the other hand, is pain which lasts beyond the expected duration of time the body needs to heal after an injury (usually 3-6 months).

How can Sufferers of Chronic Pain Find Relief?

One of the multiple theories related to origin of chronic pain is the "gate theory,” which offers hope to millions of Americans that suffer from chronic pain. Gate theory treats chronic pain as a disease. The cause of this disease is normally a form of trauma; broken bones, burns, tears, etc. When these injuries take place the body releases norepinephrine—this substance causes feelings of hopelessness, tension, increased pulse and spasm of the vessels all of which alert the body to an imbalance. As the injury heals the body begins to release serotonin which helps calm the body, by soothing the injured area and reducing the pain associated with the injury. So how does this give hope to the millions of sufferers of chronic pain?

Gate-theory gives insight in to how to treat the pain. Traditionally, doctors had difficulty understanding why the pain was not going away after a patients injury, so instead of treating the cause of the pain the tried to mitigate the pain being experienced. This type of treatment may buy short-term relief, but it is in no way a long term solution. Enter gate theory—now doctors can see that some types of chronic pain are caused by imbalances in the bodies systems that leave the body feeling pain that should already be resolved. With this better understanding doctors can now treat the cause of the chronic pain increasing the chances that the patient will feel lasting relief from what ails them.

Contact AFM

Advanced Family Medicine is here to provide you with the highest level of professionalism and care. If you have further questions about chronic pain and how AFM can help, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Tags: Chronic pain, Gate Theory, Pain, Redmond

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