When we work out after a very long interval, or strain our muscles by lifting heavy things, or even when we have caught the flu, our bodies pain in different intensities and we can’t take any more of it. Now imagine being in pain for months or years together. Wouldn’t that make you miserable? Normal pain is qualified as chronic pain if it lasts for six months or longer. The intensity varies from person to person but that doesn’t rule out the fact that it is causing a lot of problem to the patient. Chronic pain mainly stems from headaches, joint pain, or backaches. Other sources of chronic pain include tendinitis, sinus pain, and pain affecting certain parts such as the shoulders, pelvis, or the neck.
This condition doesn’t only have physical repercussions but mental repercussions as well, and that can eventually make the pain a lot worse. Anxiety, stress, depression, anger, and fatigue interact in complex ways with chronic pain and may decrease the body’s production of natural painkillers; moreover, such negative feelings may increase the level of substances that amplify sensations of pain, causing a vicious cycle of pain for the person.
Even though painkillers are effective in the short run, it is not a lesser known fact that taking too much of medication is not good for the body, and also that a good lifestyle full of correct choices can be the treatment for any such problem. According to a new research, better sleep and longer sleep hours coupled with daytime alertness-promoting agents such as coffee might work better than painkillers when it comes to reducing pain. This decreases the intensity of the pain, but the effect may vary from person to person.
The study, conducted on mice, showed that after five days of moderate sleep deprivation, the hypersensitivity to pain significantly increases in otherwise healthy mice. Common pain killers like ibuprofen did not block sleep loss induced pain hypersensitivity. In contrast, caffeine successfully made the mice less sensitive to pain by blocking pain hypersensitivity induced by lack of sleep.
For the study, the effects of acute and chronic sleep loss were measured on both painful and non-painful stimuli.
“This represents a new kind of analgesic that hadn’t been considered before, one that depends on the biological state of the animal. Such drugs could help disrupt the chronic pain cycle, in which pain disrupts sleep, which then promotes pain, which further disrupts sleep,” said Clifford Woolf from Boston Children’s Hospital in the US.
Apart from these, there are other solutions to this problem also.
Time to Exercise
Exercise has always been considered an essential part of any person’s lifestyle and that is obviously for a reason. It is also an essential part of any pain management plan. It is considered a large part of pain management since most of the pain is said to be a cause of tight muscles. These may be triggered due to overuse, inflammation, or other conditions.
Regular exercise is important for treating chronic pain because it helps:
- strengthen muscles
- increase joint mobility
- improve sleep
- release endorphins
- reduce overall pain
Acupuncture and Acupressure
Acupuncture and acupressure are types of traditional Chinese medicine. They relieve pain by manipulating key points of the body. This prompts the body to release endorphins which can block messages of pain from being delivered to the brain.