This month, the American Chronic Pain Association (A.C.P.A.), the American Cancer Society, and other organizations are working together to make people aware of chronic pain and the way it affects lives. About 50 million Americans live with chronic pain, which can affect their income, medical bills, and everyday life.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than recovery is expected, or about three months. For example, if you hurt your back in a car accident and you are expected to recover in a few weeks but are still in pain a year later, this is chronic pain.
Chronic pain can be continuous or can sometimes ease, only to return. The intensity also varies, from debilitating to milder. In severe cases, the pain is overwhelming and can least years, leading patients to serious depression. Some patients are unable to work or take care of daily tasks because of this pain. For some sufferers, the pain is bad enough that it interferes with sleep, which can make a patient vulnerable to high blood pressure and other complications caused by sleep disturbance.
How Does Chronic Pain Happen?
Chronic pain can happen from many situations, including illnesses such as arthritis, endometriosis, neuralgias, cancer, and many others. Sometimes, pain can occur after a severe injury, including:
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord or back injury
- Broken bones
- Whiplash or soft tissue injury
- Internal injury
- Crushing injuries
Anyone who has sustained a sports injury, workplace injury, traffic accident injury, or any situation where pain is present may eventually develop chronic pain. It is not entirely understood why some patients recover from an injury while others develop chronic pain. Research into this question continues.
How Much Does it Cost to Treat Chronic Pain?
The good news is that treatment options are being developed all the time. In the past, pain medication was often used, but today it is recognized that chronic pain is a serious illness that affects many parts of a patient’s life. As a result, doctors may prescribe many types of treatment.
- Pain management. Pain management can include medication, steroid injections, treatments for inflammation, cold or hot compresses, and other treatments. It can also mean tracking levels of pain and having plans for each level of discomfort.
- Treatment for underlying causes. Treating the condition which causes the pain can reduce chronic pain.
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy. Patients can be taught to move, work, and complete everyday tasks. As pain affects their ability to live and move, rehabilitation and physical therapy can ease some pain and uncover new ways of living with pain.
- Wellness treatments. Many patients choose art therapy, yoga, acupuncture, breathing techniques, and other forms of wellness treatment to reduce stress, which can make pain worse. These treatments can also help patients take their mind off their pain and can improve overall feelings of well-being.
Counseling. Chronic pain can cause feelings of dread, fear, and despair. It can cause mood swings, personality changes, and even relationship challenges. Therapy or even group counseling can help patients and their loves ones find ways to address the emotions that come with chronic pain.
The bad news is that effective pain treatment for chronic pain can be expensive. Across the country, it costs about $300 billion per year for just the medical costs of chronic pain. In addition to medical costs, patients also need to pay for lost income, alternative treatments, and the costs of adapting their homes and lives to their condition.
This high cost is one reason why it can be useful to speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as you have sustained a serious injury. Attorneys understand that chronic pain and other complications can occur after an injury and they work to get fair compensation so you can pay for quality care.
Unfortunately, if you wait months or years after an accident or injury, your chances of securing compensation are less. Don’t hesitate. Call Flaxman Law Group or contact us online. We have three offices—in Miami, Homestead, and Hollywood—to serve you and we’d be happy to schedule a free, no obligation consultation with a personal injury attorney. Our legal team has more than six decades of combined experience and we’d be happy to put this experience to work for you.