Pain is personal, often driven by illness, injury, or surgery. Sometimes, we know the cause and can treat it till it goes away. Other times, a diagnosis is impossible. If the reason stays hidden with symptoms lasting for months, disrupting daily life, then you may be experiencing chronic pain syndrome.
What is chronic pain?
The experts at the Cleveland Clinic offer the following definition: “Chronic pain is pain that is ongoing, keeps returning, or lasts longer than the normal course of healing. It can last long after the injury or illness that first caused it is gone. Chronic pain can last from several months to many years. It has a negative effect on a person’s well-being and ability to perform everyday activities.” But the symptoms are treatable.
Do I have chronic pain?
You may be suffering from chronic pain syndrome if you have:
- Constant throbbing or burning in your arm, foot, hand, or leg
- Sensitivity to cold or touch
- Swelling of the affected area
- Changes in skin temperature, between sweaty and cold
- Changes in skin color, from white and mottled to red or blue
- Changes in visible skin texture
- Changes in nail and hair growth
- Joint problems
- Muscle problems including atrophy
- Trouble moving the affected body part
Is chronic pain syndrome a disability?
Chronic pain in and of itself isn’t considered a disability by the United States Social Security Administration (SSA), but that doesn’t mean you’re not disabled. It doesn’t mean you won’t be approved for benefits. Rather, saying that chronic pain syndrome isn’t officially recognized by the SSA means the burden of proof is on your shoulders. When applying for benefits, you have to prove your condition has resulted in long-term disability and can back that up.
Applying for disability payments
People suffering from chronic pain that believe they’re disabled may have a hard slog ahead of them when applying for benefits through the SSA. The U.S. government has two criteria for deciding if you’re disabled:
- “You must be unable to do any substantial work because of your medical condition(s); and
- “Your medical condition(s) must have lasted, or be expected to last at least 1 year, or be expected to result in your death.”
The final disability decision is based on state-level experts contacting your doctor or anywhere else you received treatment and asking for records or other information.
Get a diagnosis
Your primary care doctor, therapist, or other licensed medical professionals can provide a diagnosis for chronic pain. This may involve one or more appointments, where you can expect to undergo a battery of tests and diagnostic procedures including blood tests, X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging, and a psychiatric evaluation if needed.
Find a provider
Once you’ve been diagnosed, the next step is to decide on treatment after talking about options with your doctor. You may be recommended store-bought medicine, psychotherapy or physical therapy, or medicine like ketamine.
How to treat chronic pain syndrome
Like other pain, chronic pain syndrome affects everyone differently, based on gender, age, overall health, family history, and other factors. A doctor takes all that information into account once the cause for the pain has been determined and will create a treatment plan suited to your symptoms and condition. Treatment may involve:
- Ketamine is an obvious choice, given its therapeutic and sedation properties. That, and the fact that years of research has shown it soothes the worst symptoms of chronic pain, mental illness, and other conditions
- Store-bought and over-the-counter pain relievers
- Certain antidepressants or other prescription medications
- Heat or cold therapy
- Physical or occupational therapy
- Individual or group psychotherapy
- Pet, art, or music therapy
- Dietary or lifestyle changes
- Herbal or nutritional supplements
The best treatment for chronic pain is one you are comfortable with.
Is ketamine an option?
More and more people who suffer from chronic pain are discovering the potentially life-altering benefits of ketamine therapy. Ketamine was introduced as a sedative, but years of research have shown its ability to strengthen or repair damaged neurotransmitters – critical in how we perceive and handle pain throughout the body. The treatment is a viable therapy for people who’ve battled symptoms of chronic pain and other conditions but found little relief.
Ketamine, a prominent anesthetic known across the globe and used for decades, is also a powerful pain reliever. Ketamine is especially useful as a pain treatment because of its unique ability to possibly bring relief to pain symptoms within hours or even minutes, rather than the weeks or months traditional medication can take for some people.
Research into ketamine for mood and pain disorder treatment is still ongoing, but it is believed that ketamine helps foster new connections between synapses and restore damaged nerve connections. This, in essence, rewrites the parts of your brain contributing to your symptoms.
Contact us today to learn more about this innovative new treatment option.