Recognition of Chronic Pain as a Disease


If you’re suffering from chronic pain, then understanding how pain works is key to overcoming it. The New York Times has a pertinent article regarding this very strange issue from which so many suffer.  Giving Chronic Pain a Medical Platform of Its Own highlights a growing understanding of chronic pain by some medical professionals (and a misunderstanding by many more medical pros).  The main points are these:

“Among the important findings in the Institute of Medicine report is that chronic pain often outlasts the original illness or injury, causing changes in the nervous system that worsen over time. Doctors often cannot find an underlying cause because there isn’t one. Chronic pain becomes its own disease.

“When pain becomes chronic, when it becomes persistent even after the tissue and injury have healed, then people are suffering from chronic pain,” Dr. Sean Mackey, chief of pain management at the Stanford School of Medicine said. “We’re finding that there are significant changes in the central nervous system and spinal cord that cause pain to become amplified and persistent even after the injury has gone away.”

We see now that in many many cases, pain DOES NOT equal injury.  (If you fall and bang your knee, cut your finger, or touch a hot stove then yes, the pain is quite indicative of an injury.  These are acute injuries, not chronic pain issues.)  Read the rest of the article for some of the latest ideas on pain science.  If you want more excellent information on the very strange subject of pain, check out Body In Mind, a blog by pain researchers based at the The Sansom Institute for Health Research at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

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