At any given moment in the United States, more than 100 million people are suffering from chronic pain, resulting in a cost of $600 billion per year in lost productivity and medical treatments. Because children and military personnel are not included in that figure, many believe the numbers are much higher. Chronic pain is most often the result of an injury or an illness. Auto accidents and their resulting injuries are a primary cause of chronic pain, yet many fail to recognize the seriousness of this “day in, day out” pain. Phillip Pizzo, MD of Stanford University School of Medicine noted, “We see that for many patients chronic pain becomes a disease in its own right…we need to include prevention as a very important goal.” Living with chronic pain is challenging enough because of the pain itself; however there are many factors accompanying chronic pain which can make life even more difficult.
Chronic Pain Can Also Lead To Additional Medical Problems
Perhaps at the top of the list is the fact that that many times people in pain are treated as if that pain is either greatly exaggerated, or totally “in their heads.” Of course pain is subjective, but for the vast majority of those with chronic pain, the pain is both real and present, and is in no way made up. Unfortunately, there is no known medical test which can accurately diagnose pain. There is no fracture clearly seen on an x-ray, or a definitive blood test which validates the person’s expression of pain. Chronic pain can also lead to additional medical problems, both physical and mental. Increased pain can lead to increased sleep problems–which can lead to other health issues.
Pain and Depression – Coping Strategies
Chronic pain can lead to depression, which is a serious disease in its own right, and can cause a worsening of the pain as well as other health problems. Approximately 50 percent of those with chronic pain will also suffer from depression. The person with chronic pain can lead a very lonely existence, particularly when the pain is caused by a condition which cannot be seen. Patients who understand their chronic pain may benefit through increased emotional support and more effective pain management. While chronic pain is a very serious medical issue, there are strategies which can help those who suffer from chronic pain following an accident:
- Techniques such as deep breathing or mediation can help the tension and tightness flow out of the body as the body learns to relax.
- Since stress can intensify chronic pain, learning to take control of this stress and to better deal with anxiety, anger, and depression can help lessen the chronic pain.
- Exercise can increase the endorphins in your brain, which help improve mood while also blocking pain signals.
- While it may seem that alcohol dulls your chronic pain, alcohol can worsen sleep problems.
- Join a support group in order to meet others who share your experience with chronic pain.
- Smoking can worsen chronic pain as well as increasing the risk of heart disease and cancer.
- Keep a log or journal of your daily “pain score,” which will both help you understand how your activities and emotions affect your pain levels and will also help your doctor have a better understanding of your physical functioning level and how you live with your chronic pain.
- Consider trying such techniques as biofeedback or massage therapy to see how your pain level is impacted.
- Change your diet if you currently eat less than healthfully.
- Work on finding ways to shift your focus from your pain to an activity you enjoy.
Contact Our Experienced Personal Injury & Accident Attorneys
If you were injured in an accident and suffer chronic pain as a result, it is important to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney at McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., who fully understands the impact that chronic pain can have on your everyday life. While victims of the carelessness of another may receive compensation for medical expenses and lost wages, chronic pain, which diminishes the enjoyment and quality of life, must also be addressed and compensated.
Our team of lawyers consists of some of the best personal injury attorneys in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and we will fight aggressively for you throughout the legal process.