There are specific risk factors that predict who may be likely to need pain management in the future.
Chronic pain currently affects about 116 million American adults — that's more than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. But because pain can stem from many different diseases, injuries, and situations, there are many risk factors to consider when predicting who might experience chronic pain and need pain management solutions.
There are three major categories of risk factors for chronic pain:
- Biological risk factors that stem from your physical characteristics as well as your medical history
- Psychological risk factors linked to your mood and personality
- Lifestyle risk factors
Living With Chronic Pain: Biological Risk Factors
These are the leading physical factors that could put you at risk for chronic pain:
- Old age. As people grow older and as their bodies age, they tend to need more ways to manage pain.
- Genetics. Some chronic pain conditions like migraines have been linked to genetics. Studies also have found genetic conditions that can make you more sensitive to pain and require more chronic pain management.
- Race. African-Americans and Hispanics appear to be at greater risk for chronic pain, studies have shown.
- Obesity. People who carry a lot of extra weight often develop chronic pain due to their poor health. Obesity also can exacerbate medical conditions that require pain management.
- Previous injury. People who have recovered from a traumatic injury run a greater risk for future chronic pain. The main pain neurotransmitter is released in greater quantities in people who had previous pain problems or previous longstanding psychiatric disorder. It's a startling increase — it can be anywhere from threefold to five fold.
Living With Chronic Pain: Psychological Risk Factors
These factors can also increase your risk of living with chronic pain:
- Childhood trauma. People who experienced parental neglect or physical or sexual abuse as children are more likely to have chronic pain. These childhood factors play a large role in later developing a chronic pain problem.
- Mood disorders. People with depression or anxiety disorders have a greater risk of chronic pain. Many brain areas and neurotransmitters that handle pain signals also manage mood.
Living With Chronic Pain: Lifestyle Risk Factors
The way you live your life can put you at risk for chronic pain:
- Having a high-risk job. People with jobs that require heavy lifting or strenuous physical activity are at greater risk for developing chronic pain.
- Stress. Chronic pain has been linked to both chronic stress and post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Smoking. Smokers are at greater risk for developing medical conditions that lead to the need for chronic pain management. They also are less likely to respond to pain management therapies.
Living With Chronic Pain: Decreasing Your Risk
Becoming more aware of your risk factors can give you an edge in warding off future chronic pain. Preventive steps you can take include:
- Improve your health. Eat right and exercise to reach a healthy weight and become physically fit.
- Quit smoking. There are numerous health benefits to quitting, including the potential to avoid future chronic pain management.
- Manage your stress. Exercise, meditate, or practice another form of stress relief. Seek help for mood disorders.If you have depression or anxiety, get help before your mood disorder leads to chronic pain.
- Be smart on the job. Take safety precautions to limit your risk of injury. That's part of why work safety issues are really important — a lot of these jobs can be made a lot safer. In construction, people have to wear hard hats because they decrease the risk of head injuries. The same thing may be true for wearing some kind of brace or support when performing a heavy lifting job.
Here's the bottom line: Knowing more about why chronic pain occurs and how to keep it in check may help you avoid this condition. For more information, contact Comprehensive Pain Management in South Kingstown, RI. everydayhealth.com