Pain – who doesn’t know about it? However, for at least 50 million American adults, it is chronic. For about 8% of them, it is high-impact, which means it severely limits their ability to do at least one activity.
But why do people feel pain, and how does it become chronic?
The Low-Down of Pain
To understand pain is to go back to anatomy, particularly the nervous system. The brain sits as the command center of the body and the heart of the system. It processes all the information it receives from and sends feedback to various organs.
Connected to the brain is the spinal cord, in which inside is a bundle of nerve fibers. These fibers, which then serve as the data superhighway, connect to the organs, like the skin.
When you accidentally touch a hot stove, for instance, it activates the pain receptors of the skin. The nerves then deliver this information straight to the brain, which perceives it. It will then trigger you to remove your hand from the stove.
The brain also stores information, which allows you to associate burning, pain, and stove altogether. This explains why you won’t touch the same hot surface ever again. Because of the sensation, you help keep yourself safe.
The problem is pain can become chronic, in which it lasts for at least three months. Unfortunately, experts haven’t figured out the root cause yet. A 2019 study believed it begins in a group of cells called dorsal root ganglia near the spine.
Other explanations may include medical conditions and injuries. Illnesses may increase the risk of inflammation, which could then damage the nerves. Meanwhile, an injury to the back, for example, could pinch the nerves or fracture the spine. All these can affect the way the organs and the nervous system communicate.
Other risk factors include aging, where the body’s organs naturally break down. This could leave the nerve fibers more prone to injuries or damage.
How to Deal with Chronic Pain
Because science still needs to figure out the causes of chronic pain, it doesn’t have any cure yet. However, there are two underrated options:
- CBD Oil
CBD stands for cannabidiol, a cannabinoid present in hemp. When consumed, the compounds attach themselves to the endocannabinoid receptors that are within the pain circuit. It may explain why it could help people suffering from neuropathic pain and seizures.
CBD is a subject of intense debate because it is from a cannabis plant. However, unlike marijuana, this one contains less than 0.03% tetrahydrocannabinol, the substance that causes you to get high. It is therefore legal in many states, and you can buy CBD oil for your treatment needs.
In 2016, the University of Warwick researchers learned that people with chronic pain were more likely to suffer from insomnia. They were also more anxious. Sadly, anxiety and sleeplessness only led to worse or more frequent pain.
A study in the Journal of Neuroscience may have the answer. According to it, sleep helps improve the pain-killing response of the brain. Other types of research also showed that getting the right amount of sleep could modulate the immune system. It helps the body fight inflammation, which can worsen pain reception.
Hopefully, by learning more about pain, you can assess your risks and be more proactive in its management.