Pain Awareness Month: The Ripple Effects of Chronic Pain
ICYMI: In recognition of Pain Awareness Month, we are diving deep into the issues that impact the chronic pain community. This post is the third in our month-long Pain Awareness Month blog series. Check out the first two post on the prevalence of chronic pain and debunking the pain scale.
For the 100 million Americans living with chronic pain, managing the physical effects related to their conditions is not the only thing that impacts their daily lives. More often than not, chronic pain is also associated with other health and psychological issues, including mental health and poor sleep patterns.
Understanding the Psychological Impacts of Pain
Living with chronic pain can be devastating. Pain affects all aspects of the individual’s life – the ability to work, to be in relationships with other people, to exercise, etc. It can also produce feelings of depression and anxiety. For many, the thought of just getting out of bed in the morning can be difficult.
In fact, a survey conducted with 300+ respondents with chronic pain found that almost two-thirds reported an impact on their overall enjoyment of life. In the same study, 77 percent reported feeling depressed and 74 percent said their energy levels have been impacted by their pain.
Not only does chronic pain impact mood and energy levels, it has also been shown to result in major life changes for those living with it. For instance, a study found that chronic pain has resulted in taking disability leave from work (20 percent), changing jobs altogether (17 percent) and having to get help with activities of daily living (13 percent).
The Link between Sleep and Pain
In addition to the psychological impacts, getting a good night’s sleep is challenging when you’re living with chronic pain. In fact, up to two-thirds of those with chronic pain conditions experience some form of sleeping disorder, such as insomnia. ’’Inadequate sleep often worsens pain symptoms, which can precipitate a vicious cycle of decreased activity during the day and even less sleep at night.
For those with chronic pain, the quiet environment at bedtime can cause problems because the only thing their minds can focus on is the presence and severity of their pain. With the lack of other stimulation distracting the brain, pain symptoms may become magnified and create a barrier to a good night’s sleep. You can read more about how pain impacts sleep here.
While chronic pain presents a variety of challenges – from the physical pain to mental health to getting a good night’s sleep – it’s important to remember that options exist that can help improve the overall quality of life for those with chronic pain.
At NeuroMetrix, we believe a toolbox approach to pain management and treatment can help, which includes a number of different methods – such as regular physical activity, meditation and neurotechnology wearables (like Quell).
Be sure to check out next week’s blog post, where we will take a closer look at the broader economic discussion around the cost of pain.
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