Chronic pain may persist for weeks, months or even years. This type of pain overwhelms all other symptoms. It may affect people so that they often cannot work, lose interest in life, and physical activity of any kind is exhausting and aggravates the pain. Chronic pain is long-standing pain that persists beyond the usual recovery period or occurs along with a chronic health condition, such as arthritis. It may be intermittent or continuous.
Chronic pain involves all aspects of a person's life; therefore, the most effective treatment includes not only relief of symptoms, but also other types of support. A multidisciplinary approach to pain management can often provide the needed interventions to help manage the pain. Skilled professionals are typically part of the pain management team and offer services to meet each of the patient's needs.
Services are provided by the following caregivers:
- Board-certified pain management physicians
- Nurses and nurse practitioners
- Physical therapists
- Occupational therapists
- Complementary/alternative medicine therapists
Chronic pain problems typically respond best within the structure of a comprehensive pain program that encourages the patient and family to participate and develop coping strategies and skills. The goal of pain management essentially is to help the patient return to the highest level of function and independence possible, while improving the overall quality of life - physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. Pain management techniques assist in reducing the suffering experienced by a person with chronic pain.