Chronic pain is pain that lasts for three to six months and more due to some previous injury or surgery, migraines, arthritis, infection, nerve damage, and back problems. It can be felt in the form of a dull ache, a burning or throbbing sensation, a shooting pain, a squeezing or stinging pain, soreness or stiffness. Sometimes, the pain is accompanied by fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, mood swings or merely lethargy. Because it interferes with daily life, it can leave one feeling angry and depressed.
As far as a general treatment for chronic pain goes, there are several medications, both oral and topical.
Oral medication is one that can be taken by mouth. These include anti-inflammatory drugs that are nonsteroidal, opioids and acetaminophen. Topical medications are those that can be applied to the skin in the form of creams, ointment or patches. Some patches are made to work when they are applied directly on top of the area where the pain is. Others need to be used far away from the centre of the pain, such as fentanyl patches. Some of these medications need a prescription while others are over the counter.
There are also other avenues like interventional techniques that involve injecting into or all about the area of the spine. Some of these injections may be superficial. These are injected into painful muscles. While these are called trigger point injections, others are more invasive. There are epidural injections given for pain in the neck, arm, back or leg. There are facet injections to the joints to enable movement of the neck and the back. There are also injections specifically given for burning pain.
When it comes to general treatment for chronic pain, medication is not the only way to go. Exercises, for instance, go a long way in relieving pain and reducing dependency on drugs. Exercises in these situations work best when done under the supervision or guidance of a physical therapist. Another method that could help relieve dependence on medication is acupuncture. Pads are placed on the skin over affected areas by Transcutaneous Electro-Nerve Stimulator or TENS units to help reduce pain.