Chronic pain conditions are one of the most significant barriers to quality of life, affecting almost half (43%) of the UK population. Of those, around 8 million people in the UK live with chronic pain that is moderate to severely disabling. Chronic pain affects over 100 million people in the US each year, more than cancer, diabetes, and heart disease combined and is the most common cause of disability.
People can suffer from a chronic pain condition from various causes, but the older we get, the more likely we will suffer from chronic pain. Older adults especially are looking for better treatment options for arthritis pain to avoid potent painkillers and side effects. Many young people with conditions such as fibromyalgia, connective tissue disorders, and low back pain are also looking for answers to live better and avoid becoming disabled by their pain conditions.
Chronic pain can also lead to mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and sleep problems. Often these issues go hand in hand, and we must treat the whole person with an integrative approach.
Chronic pain that is not well treated can disrupt hobbies, family and relationships, work, energy levels, and passion for living. Sadly, chronic pain is often poorly understood and poorly treated by conventional drugs and surgery alone – the leading toolkit of traditional medicine.
Pain is in The Brain Too.
When the pain goes from acute to chronic, the pain isn’t just in a specific body part anymore. The pain messages and signals also become wired in our brains and our nervous systems. Chronic pain creates a constant stress burden and increases our allosteric load (total body stress burden). It uses up mental and physical resources and energy and can lead to a hyper-aroused ‘tired but wired’ nervous system that has trouble relaxing and calming down due to the constant internal threat of pain.
Treating chronic pain effectively, even when you cannot cure it permanently, is one of the most important and powerful things you can do to improve your quality of life drastically.