General Pain Treatment
Treating Pain from Fibromyalgia, Arthritis and Other Conditions
General pain—that is, pain felt throughout the body, as opposed to pain that originates from a specific location—can be quite mysterious to diagnose. People who experience persistent, general pain may believe they are suffering from a specific condition, such as back pain or chronic headaches. But if the pain is not confined to just one area of the body, and if it persists for several months or longer, it may actually be general or chronic pain, which is a more complex condition. General pain causes and conditions include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis, and neuropathy.
Fibromyalgia is a term used to describe chronic, widespread pain along with a heightened response to pain. Affecting far more women than men, and mostly people in their 40s and 50s, this condition affects the muscles, skin, and soft tissue. Fibromyalgia causes chronic and widespread muscle pain and stiffness along with headaches and tender joints, and can also cause numbness and tingling in the arms, legs, hands or feet.
The defining characteristic of fibromyalgia is pain felt all over the body, which can be deep, sore, achy, dull, or throbbing. The pain might come and go, or it might move from one point to another in the body. A person who has fibromyalgia might also experience tenderness around the joints that feel sore when pressed.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) shares several characteristics with fibromyalgia, including the mysterious nature of its causes, a similar set of demographics in the population experiencing this condition, and the difficulty of diagnosing and treating its symptoms. As with fibromyalgia, CFS affects far more women than men, and the condition occurs most often in people in their 40s and 50s. Chronic fatigue might be triggered by a viral infection, a nutritional deficiency, or a faulty immune system, but its exact causes are unknown.
Along with extreme, overwhelming fatigue that isn’t relieved by sleeping, CFS also causes recurring and chronic pain. CFS pain can manifest in the form of headaches, sore muscles or joints, or a sore throat. At least some of this pain may be the result of lack of exercise or lying down for prolonged periods due to overwhelming fatigue.
Arthritis is a condition which can develop when the cartilage in the joints breaks down due to aging or inflammation. The resulting lack of cartilage often causes pain, stiffness, swelling and weakness. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of this condition, is most prevalent among older people, as well as in women, people who work on their feet, and people who are overweight.
Rheumatoid arthritis and post-traumatic arthritis also both cause stiffness, swelling and pain in the joints. With rheumatoid arthritis, the joint becomes inflamed, while post-traumatic arthritis can be associated with cartilage damage caused by a serious trauma or injury.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can attack joints throughout the body, including the shoulders, elbows, hands, spine, hips, and knees. For this reason, people with arthritis can feel general, chronic pain as a result of their condition.
Neuropathy and Nerve Damage
The sensory nerves send information, including pain signals, from the muscles and skin to the brain. For this reason, the term “neuropathy,” which refers to nerve pain, can be misleading, since all pain is nerve pain. The difference lies in normal versus abnormal nerve functioning. When the nerves are functioning normally, they send pain signals to the brain when there is the presence of a specific stimulus, such as a broken bone, a stubbed toe, or a bee sting. But in the case of neuropathy, the nerve signals fire even when pain stimuli are not present.
Shingles, diabetes, ruptured discs in the spine, and certain other illnesses and disorders can cause nerve damage resulting in neuropathy. Compression and crush injuries can also lead to neuropathy, as can certain nutritional deficiencies. Neuropathy and nerve damage can feel like mild tingling, prickling, burning, numbness, or sensitivity.
Whatever the cause, Balcones Pain can diagnose and treat your general pain with an individualized treatment plan and compassionate care.
How is General Pain Treated?
There are many options when it comes to treatments for general pain, and which treatment will work best depends on the specific underlying cause or condition. Oral and topical medications can be quite effective in treating general pain caused by certain conditions, while counseling or physical therapy might be more effective for other conditions. Still, others may require nerve blocks or superficial muscle injections of steroids and pain medication to reduce general pain and inflammation.
Acupuncture and Biofeedback for Treating General Pain
Acupuncture, an ancient healing technique of traditional Chinese medicine, is a noninvasive technique that can be quite effective at treating general pain. This practice involves stimulating specific points on the body with extremely fine, sterile needles to promote the natural healing process. Acupuncture can be a beneficial component of treatment for general pain conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), and arthritis.
Biofeedback, another noninvasive technique, involves electrical sensors that provide feedback about the body’s functions, such as heart rate, temperature, sweating, and blood pressure. Individuals can use this information to learn to make subtle changes in their body functions, thereby improving their overall health. Biofeedback can teach you to relax certain muscles, for example, to help reduce chronic pain. Biofeedback can be an essential component of treating general pain from stress, fibromyalgia, and certain other conditions.
Treating Pain Due to Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
General pain stemming from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) can be addressed medically in a variety of ways that are often most effective when used in combination. Both conditions benefit from counseling, as it is believed that the chronic pain of fibromyalgia and CFS has an emotional component, perhaps related to stress or anxiety. Thus, managing these emotional conditions is an important part of managing the general and ongoing pain that can come with these conditions. Similarly, antidepressants can be quite effective in treating fibromyalgia or CFS pain.
Pain medications like acetaminophen, NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) and opioids can temporarily reduce general pain due to fibromyalgia or CFS, but these drugs should not be used long-term due to possible adverse side effects. Nerve blocks can also be effective treatments for general pain from fibromyalgia or CFS.
Treating General Pain Due to Arthritic Conditions
General pain due to osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or post-traumatic arthritis can be treated with NSAIDs, DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs), or other medications that reduce pain and inflammation. General pain from arthritis can also be successfully treated with epidural steroid injections, exercises, and physical therapy. Weight management can be important in treating general arthritis pain since being overweight places more pressure on joints throughout the body, thereby increasing the pain a person experiences.
Treating General Pain Due to Neuropathy and Nerve Damage
Neuropathy, or nerve pain resulting from abnormal nerve functioning, can cause debilitating chronic pain. Shingles, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, ruptured spinal discs, and injuries can all lead to nerve damage and general, chronic pain due to neuropathy. Treatment of general pain due to neuropathy might involve pain medication, antidepressants, or skin patches that provide temporary, localized pain relief. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation can also be quite effective at treating general pain due to neuropathy or nerve damage.
Whatever the reason for your general or chronic pain, the caring experts at Balcones Pain Consultants will listen compassionately to your symptoms and develop a personalized treatment plan.
Advanced Treatments for General Pain Management
Severe or chronic pain which does not respond to other treatments, or which significantly impacts your life or activity level, may be treated with more advanced methods. It’s important to let your healthcare provider at Balcones Pain Consultants know about all your symptoms, so that we can help you to return to living life as smoothly and quickly as possible. We will be happy to answer any questions you have about the many treatment options available, including: