Chronic Pain Management
"Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace,who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you." - 1 Peter 5:9-10
Pain is a part of being human, no matter how unpleasant it may be. From time to time, everyone experiences aches, strains, sprains, and breaks, throwing the body out of its natural state and causing pain that makes it hard to live a normal life.
For most people, pain goes away sooner or later as wounds heal or the body grows stronger. For others, however, it's persistent and lasts for weeks, months, and even years, standing in the way of everything from caring for family to maintaining employment.
Pain is a wide-reaching condition and it doesn't discriminate among patients, regardless of gender, age, or creed. In the United States, over 76 million Americans will live with some form of pain lasting over 24 hours, whether acute or chronic. Unfortunately, chronic pain is often treated with opioid pain relievers, leading to a strong risk of addiction in those simple seeking relief.
If you are struggling to overcome an addiction and are unable to find answers in God alone, Road to Freedom is here to provide the Christ-centered resources you deserve.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is defined as any pain, whether mild or severe, that lasts for longer than 12 weeks. Cause is not relevant; any issue, from disease to injury, can contribute to a chronic pain definition. The Journal of Neuroscience estimates that approximately 100 million Americans have or will experience chronic pain to at least some degree, creating a lasting problem for nearly one third of the country.
Despite its prevalence, treating pain is extremely difficult. In many cases, pain does not have a clear cause or display outward symptoms, making it very hard for doctors to determine a diagnosis and provide care accordingly. In some instances, appropriate tests can determine a source of pain or an underlying condition contributing to discomfort but in others, doctors are simply left making decisions blindly. In order to manage symptoms and reduce sensations, this leads to the use of pain killers – an ongoing problem in the U.S. In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioids.
Causes of Chronic Pain
Determining the cause of chronic pain is often at the root of care decisions, but properly identifying and treating injury or illness is often harder than it sounds. Due to the high number of conditions that can cause pain, many doctors are unable to easily identify the source, especially in cases of chronic pain that have persisted with no improvement over time. While all cases are different, some common causes include:
- Acute injuries, like a minor sprain that takes a long time to recover or is exacerbated by activity
- Acute illness, like a complication of a challenging disease like MRSA that involves multiple treatments
- Chronic illnesses, like osteoporosis, that causes pain as a side effect
- Congenital deformities that do not respond well to treatment, like issues with spine development
- Nervous system challenges that incorrectly interpret pain signals, leading to pain that has no true source
Acute vs. Chronic Pain
Pain is not a one-size-fits-all kind of condition. Instead, pain can manifest in many different ways, from a pulled muscle after the gym to long-lasting and debilitating pain from a serious injury. In an effort to refine care provided, medical professionals divide pain into two different categories: acute and chronic.
Acute pain refers to short-term discomfort related to tissue damage. This can be caused by any number of issues, like working out, pulled muscles, and damage from strenuous activities. Symptoms of acute pain are short term and clear up as tissue heals. Any effects are often treated by mild pain relievers, like over the counter antiinflammatories.
Chronic pain refers to longer term pain that continues for weeks, months, or years. Instead of serving as an inconvenience, chronic pain can be debilitating, standing in the way of normal life activities. Causes of chronic pain are not always clear and may not resolve without assistance.
Treatment, Dependency, and Chronic Pain
When a cause for pain is available, many doctors attempt to address these underlying conditions as best as possible. Treatments for chronic pain are vast and varying, and can include:
- Over the counter medications, like ibuprofen and acetaminophen
- Nerve blocks provided by a doctor
- Prescription strength pain medications, like oxycodone or morphine
For patients who are unable to see results through other avenues, opioid pain medication is the preferred choice for most doctors. Powerful and extremely effective, most patients are able to see great relief with help from prescription drug therapy.
However, opioids are not meant for long term use and can be very addictive, leading to dependency in those who rely on these drugs to manage pain. After weeks or months of use, patients will feel unable to function without access to pain medication and its pleasing side effects. In addition, prolonged pain reliever use can make it harder for the body to handle pain signals without assistance.
Accordingly, pain patients may begin taking larger doses to maintain positive feelings, or start seeking additional prescriptions for stronger alternatives to meet a growing tolerance. As this process continues, a dependency begins to form, putting chronic pain patients at a high risk for addiction.
The Short Fall to Addiction
As some of the most addictive substances available, it is very easy to understand the transition from pain management to addiction that many patients face. The power of relieving pain is strong, indeed, and many chronic pain sufferers do not realize the threat of addiction until it is too late.
The risk of opioid abuse is severe, with over 2 million addicted individuals in 2015 and 20,101 cases of overdose directly related to prescription pain medication. The problem doesn't stop with opioids, either; four in five new heroin users start out through an addiction to prescription pain killers, transitioning to street drugs due to the regulation and high cost associated with doctor-provided options.
Manage Chronic Pain with Road to Freedom
As a Christian, it can be hard to see yourself as an addict. You may believe that substance abuse is a sin, or that there's no way to develop an abusive habit when using drugs provided by a doctor. In reality, anyone can fall victim to addiction, no matter how much time you devote to your faith.
Oftentimes, patients who are struggling with chronic pain have spiritual struggles. They may find themselves doubting their faith, or asking themselves "why?" Our pastors are here to process this question, and others, providing physical and spiritual healing to help you move forward.
At Road to Freedom, patients who suffer from chronic pain can find medical and holistic services to help them deal with both physical and spiritual limitations. Our pastors are ready to provide compassionate support, prayer, and resources for biblical meditation, balancing your relationship with Jesus Christ with proven treatment methods.
Alternatives to Medication
Despite the importance of breaking the cycle of abuse, working to treat addiction is unlikely to resolve your chronic pain. As such, our medical professionals promote many other forms of healing to address and minimize pain, including:
- Acupuncture: An ancient treatment method that involves pricking the skin and soft tissue with fine needles in an effort to alleviate mental, physical, and emotional pain
- Chiropractic Services: A manipulation of the joints by a chiropractor to minimize discomfort caused by misalignment
- Therapeutic Massage: A massage of the soft tissue to relieve muscle pain and tension
- Laser Therapy: A treatment that utilizes a beam of light to stimulate cell reactions that can reduce pain and inflammation
- Yoga: A form of exercise that builds strength, stretches the body, improves posture, and intensifies the mind-body connection
- Meditation: The process of learning to clear the mind and calm the body in order to better control sensations and feelings
While working through your addiction, your treatment team at Road to Freedom will help you create a custom treatment plan designed to address your pain in the best possible ways.
Seek Help Today!
Admitting your addiction may feel like turning your back on God, but Road to Freedom is here to support you. By using the word of the Lord and messages of His love, we are able to help you manage your pain and overcome your addiction for a happier, healthier approach to life. Please contact Road to Freedom today at (844) 402-3605 to learn more.