Chronic Pain & Medical Acupuncture
Chronic Pain: What is it?
Pain is defined as an unpleasant feeling caused by a very intense physical stimulus and stems from the communication between the nerves and the brain.
By common consent, the intensity of pain is perceived as a personal experience and depends on one’s emotional pressure as well as their physical state. It is our body’s alarm that an active situation is in progress and that we need to protect ourselves.
The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with an actual or potential tissue damage and expressed with terms bespeaking the character and extension of the damage”.
Chronic Pain: Categories
More thoroughly, depending on the time the pain manifests, there are specific gradations and classifications.
- Acute pain: it manifests out of the blue and originates from a specific cause. It lasts up to six months.
- Chronic pain: when pain lasts more than six months, even after treating the initial cause. Nowadays, it is estimated that 25% of the population worldwide suffer from Chronic Pain. In the USA alone, it is estimated that about 50 million adults suffer. Chronic Pain is accompanied by muscle spasms, lack of energy, fatigue and usually limited mobility. Chronic pain is a disease!
- Nociceptive pain: when pain is caused by the stimulation of pain receptors in our skin and organs due to local inflammation.
- Visceral pain: when pain results from pathological causes of the internal human organs. It is frequently difficult to detect the exact location of the Visceral pain.
- Physical pain: when pain receptors of the body tissues are stimulated, such as those of skin, muscles, joints, connective tissues and bones, not those of our internal organs. Detecting its location is usually easy and the feeling it leaves the sufferer is continuous and deep (joints, tendons, bones), although there is superficial discomfort too (sore on skin).
- Neuropathic pain: when pain stems from the nerves themselves which in other cases transfer the pain itself from the damage of our organs that are innervated by them. Examples of Neuropathic pain is the pain caused by shingles, diabetic neuropathy, radiculopathy and symptomatically manifests as a burning or numbing sensation or as hypersensitivity to tactility or cold.
What causes the Chronic Pain:
Of course, there are various types of Chronic Pain that could be associated with underlying conditions of muscles, joints and bones. Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis are a common source of Chronic Pain. Nevertheless, a pain that insists may stems from conditions such as Stomach Ulcer, Multiple Sclerosis and Cancer.
Cancer Pain affects many patients in advanced stages of Cancer.
In other disorders such as Neuralgias or Neuropathies, the function of nerves traversing the whole body is affected due to damage in the Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord) thus causing pain.
Chronic Pain may also be caused by conditions such as Osteoporosis, Arthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases. It can even manifest after an injury or surgery.
The Mechanism of Action of Chronic Pain:
Definitely, after an injury, the nerves traversing the body convey pain messages to the brain, alerting that there is some damage. The brain translates these messages as pain.
When someone suffers from Chronic Pain, the nerves convey the pain messages in an abnormal way. This may happen because the nerve endings themselves are more sensitive or because the brain paraphrases the various signals it receives as pain messages.
In many cases, the pain manifesting due to an injury or another condition and becoming chronic may develop a psychological aspect that insists even after treating the physical problem.
Concerning the chronic injury, the nervous signals activated during the severe injury keep conveying the message that the body is still in pain even after the injury has been healed. This Chronic Pain may last several weeks, months or even years, importantly affecting the patient’s daily activities, sleep and quality of life.
Chronic Pain and Medical Acupuncture
To conclude with, we can safely remark that Medical Acupuncture, practiced by specialized Doctors, has a particularly positive effect in treating Chronic Pain. Some of the pain cases treated with Acupuncture are the Nape Pain, Joint Pain and Musculoskeletal Pain, Osteoarthritis, Intercostal Neuralgia, Dental Pain, Headache as well as Post-operative Pain.
As it turns out, Acupuncture activates a number of Opioids of the body itself (natural painkillers) and enhances the brain reaction to them. Additionally, Acupuncture deactivates the pain centers in the brain thus relieving the patient.
At the Institute of Medical Acupuncture, our aim is to relieve our patients of pain, reacquire the functionality and normal life as soon as possible, in cases and conditions where this is feasible, always through the application of Individualized Acupuncture Treatments. The number of Acupuncture sessions depend on the cause of each condition.
Indeed, the Greek State has recognized the effectiveness of Acupuncture in treating pain. For this reason, Acupuncture is applied in Pain Centers in 23 Greek hospitals.