September is the month dedicated to pain awareness. It is the time when people are made aware of the existence of chronic pain and its underlying causes. This helps people to understand their friends and relatives who may be suffering from chronic pain.
Pain is a warning sign that there is a problem that needs attention. There are two types of pain, i.e. acute pain and chronic pain.
Acute pain happens after an injury or during giving birth or after surgery. A person suffering from acute pain looks like they are in pain. There is no doubt about it. This type of pain goes away once the injury is healed or after labor is finished or the surgery has healed.
Chronic pain is pain that is persistent, but its intensity, its location and nature varies from person to person. Some say pain is defined as chronic when it persists longer than 3 months, while others say 6 months is the minimum. Chronic pain may be mild or excruciating. It can be either continuous or it may come and go. It can be just inconvenient or it can make a person completely incapable of doing anything.
Most chronic pain is related to headaches, joints, backache and a previous injury. Because the pain is there all the time, it can have a serious physical and emotional impact on the sufferer. Living with pain can be debilitating and it seriously affects everyday life.
According to WebMD, about 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. This number is greater than the number of people who have diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined. This great number has made it necessary to dedicate a whole month to pain awareness.
In this article we will discuss pain associated with the auto immune disease lupus.
Lupus and Chronic Pain
Lupus is an autoimmune disease. The immune system defends the body against diseases. When things go wrong in the body, the immune system may attack healthy body cells as if they are foreign invaders. That is when doctors declare that a person has developed an autoimmune disease. Depending on the type, an autoimmune disease can affect one or many different types of body tissue
Because lupus is inflammatory in nature, it may result in the non-specific symptoms like fevers, sweats, chills, fatigue, weight loss, and various muscle aches, pains and weakness. According to www.lupus.org, “Lupus arthritis pain causes pain, stiffness, swelling, tenderness and warmth in your joints. The joints mostly affected are the ones farthest from the middle of the body such as fingers, wrists, elbows, knees and toes.”
More than 90% of people with lupus will experience joint pain alone or joint pain accompanied with muscle pain at some time during their illness. Lupus arthritis is not disabling and destructive of joints, but it is chronic. Whether a person’s joint pain is caused by lupus or not must be determined by a doctor. Pain associated with lupus may go away when inflammation and disease activity are brought under control through medication.
Chronic and severe muscle pain is the main symptom of fibromyalgia, a disease that affects about 30% of lupus sufferers. Diagnosis is based on widespread and often extreme pain and sensitivity at 18 “tender points.” These points occur on both sides of the body in the neck, shoulders, chest, hips, knees and elbows. When the tender points occur at the same time, the doctor knows that fibromyalgia is at play.
Pain medication is a must in cases of pain caused by lupus and fibromyalgia. However, because of side effects, other pain management methods, like heat applications or cold applications, may need to be sought. Consider too other methods such relaxation, tai chi, meditation, self-hypnosis, low impact yoga and alternative therapies.
Chronic pain is real and some people live with it day in and day out. The more aware we are about its existence, the more we can practice patience and compassion towards sufferers.