What is chronic pain?
Physical pain is an unpleasant sensory experience that occurs during or after suffering tissue damage. When cells are damaged, signals are sent to the brain through the nerve fibers so that we are aware of the threat and can stop any further damage. It is a natural defense mechanism, without it we would not be aware of the damaged tissue and would potentially continue to damage our body. A simple example of this defense mechanism in process is that of a burn. If we touch a hot plate, our nerve cells send pain signals to the brain and the brain sends reflex signals to the spinal cord that cause an instant contraction of the muscles and to withdraw the hand. All this happens in milliseconds, without us being aware of it.
When the pain continues for a prolonged period of time, usually 6 months or more, the pain can be classified as chronic pain. When the sensation continues after the healing process is complete, the condition may have become resistant to conventional pain medication. This has a detrimental impact on mental health and general well-being. In some cases it is simply unexplainable and the patient faces a lifetime of pain control.
How is chronic pain diagnosed?
Diagnosing pain problems is very difficult because each person has his or her own tolerance, pain threshold and ways of expressing pain. Pain can be short term or long term, psychosomatic, moving from one place to another or staying in one place, the cause of a problem or simply a serious side effect of an illness or condition. Because of factors such as the complexity of pain problems, the fact that each person experiences them so differently and the fact that diagnosis is reduced to the individual's description of the pain (as there is no objective scale that can be used), finding the right combination of pain control drugs is the key.
The information needed to base a diagnosis is as follows:
- What kind of pain is it (aching, throbbing, etc.)?
- Where is the pain located? (Where is it, does it radiate outward?)
- What factors make it worse or better (for example, sitting in a certain way)?
- What time of day does the pain occur?
- What impact does it have on daily functions and mood?
- What is the individual's understanding of pain?
- How long has the pain lasted?
Current treatment options for chronic pain control
Currently there are few options for pain control. The vast majority of treatments are only focused on short-term or acute pain problems, such as burns, swelling, breaks, etc. The use of opioid drugs for chronic pain has increased dramatically in recent years to the point that, in some countries, it is described as an epidemic. This is probably due to their potency and effectiveness, however, when taken over long periods of time they become highly addictive and incredibly toxic to the body and mind. Not only are they addictive, but our bodies develop a tolerance for them and, as time goes by, the doses need to be increased to be effective. This makes it increasingly difficult to stop taking them in the long term. In addition, most of the administration of opioid drugs for chronic pain takes place outside hospitals or hospices, so patients have the co
Cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment option for chronic pain
A growing number of studies reveal the harmful side effects of long-term opioid use, so a safe alternative is needed. At present, all indications are that CBD would be the best substitute. CBD is already recognized as a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety drug, but it is also repeatedly showing promising results for pain control, both chronic and acute. A preliminary study from 2012 found that cannabinoids, such as CBD, are "ideal therapeutic agents for the treatment of inflammatory and neuropathic pain" and that they can weaken pain sensations "without causing major psychoactive side effects or affecting tolerance of analgesics" (2012, NCBI) Chronic pain can appear as a symptom of a larger problem, for example, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints. The real problem is inflammation, but this leads to pressure on the nerve cells and eventually creates unbearable pain. There is currently no cure for this, so pain control is the only solution that allows affected people to live more comfortably. CBD would be an excellent treatment option for daily use, as it not only reduces pain, but also has anti-inflammatory properties.
CBD, a natural and safe option for chronic pain management
The best feature of CBD, and possibly the reason why it is being chosen more and more than other conventional treatment options, is that it is natural, non-toxic, safe and has a very low risk of addiction. There are multiple methods of administration and each one adapts to different types of pain without having any psychoactive effects. In fact, some of the worst negative effects of the medicinal use of CBD are dizziness and dry mouth. This is nothing compared to the kidney failure, heart failure, liver failure, depression, anxiety, addiction and death caused by opiate-based medications. Other pain treatment options include more holistic approaches, such as incorporating changes in diet, exercise, therapy, acupuncture, physical therapy, meditation, physical manipulation, surgery, nerve blocks and more. All of these play an important role when it comes to treating pain
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