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Are You Imagining Your Chronic Pain? Probably Not

  • Jun 30, 2016
  • by Atlanta Pain Management Center
  • Conditions
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Living with inevitably involves explaining chronic pain, a task that at times can seem almost as difficult as bearing the disease in the first place. Have you found any metaphors that adequately express the nature of your condition? Have you been able to successfully convey the mental image of the beast that gnaws at your nerve endings?

The truth of chronic pain is that those without it are unable to imagine the intensity of even the baseline pain that characterizes a day in the life of most patients with long-term pain. Additional insights, however, into the underlying mechanisms of chronic pain can help to deepen understanding of those living with this life-changing condition.

Pain as a disease: when good nerve signaling goes bad

Pain is an experience, one that is sensed by the body and interpreted by the brain. As with most aspects of bodily function, over-stimulation of the pain sensory pathway leads to changes in the architecture of this biological information superhighway. While reinforcing well-used paths is a useful response in many parts of the body, the pathway to pain is not one anyone wants to have built-up and supported.

Over time, the brain’s response to unremitting painful input is to sense pain even when it is no longer there! Just as the eyes can continue to ‘see’ an image after the eyelids are closed, the brain continues to ‘see’ pain even after the source of the pain has been removed. Unfortunately, this unprovoked pain experience does not fade in seconds like the phantom images behind closed eyes. Such pain lingers and if not properly treated, chronic pain becomes a life-long unwelcome companion.

Recovery and cures: life after chronic pain

The best way to treat chronic pain is prevention. Proper treatment of painful conditions in the early stages can help prevent the development of chronic pain. After about six months of persistent pain, the pain sensory pathways have begun to be reshaped and the types of treatments required for pain relief shift as well. When a long-term pain condition has set in, it is important to consult with an expert in the types of treatment modalities that can provide relief from this particular form of pain condition.

The treatment team at Alliance Spine and Pain Centers understands chronic pain treatment. Across 15 locations in the Atlanta metro area, Alliance Spine and Pain Centers offers a range of personalized treatment options that help patients imagine life without pain. Find out today how Alliance Spine and Pain Centers can help put chronic pain in its place: the past.

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