Managing with Chronic Pain

“Many of us know someone suffering from chronic pain. In Canada, as many as 17% experience some kind of non-specific chronic pain. The cost in lost income, lost productivity and medical expenses are over $10 million a year, yet misconceptions and stigmas overshadow facts.

Defined as any physical discomfort that persists beyond expected healing time, chronic pain can be caused by injuries, failed or unsatisfactory surgeries, and illnesses such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and lupus. Some conditions produce physical changes like joint inflammation or nerve damage, but in others like fibromyalgia there are no clear physical sources for the pain. Lack of clear physical evidence can lead many to question whether the pain is real, but to sufferers it certainly is.

Rates differ among types of chronic pain (e.g., headaches, musculoskeletal, lower back, or joint pain). Regardless, it can be debilitating, limiting people’s abilities to live a full life; leaving many unable to work, engage in social activities and complete basic daily activities. As individuals come to center their world around pain, they withdraw from friends and family, becoming pessimistic about the future and feeling insecure.

Among chronic pain sufferers, the prevalence of depression or anxiety is much higher than in the general population. About 50% of those with chronic pain suffer from some kind of mental illness.”

This article is from the Trauma and Mental Health Report out of York University. You can view the complete report at the Trauma and Mental Health Site.

Stigma and mental illness can make things worse. Without a cure, management strategies are critical so that sufferers don’t let pain take over and ultimately define their lives.

Working with a counsellor can help with your management strategies.

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