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The Mental Toll That Comes With Chronic Pain

Often, pain can be a good thing. It’s your body’s way of telling you to stop what you’re doing, check for damage, and get help. But pain isn’t meant to last. When your pain persists, both your physical and mental health suffer.  

In fact, if you live with chronic pain, you’re four times more likely to have mental health issues than someone who doesn’t have chronic pain. 

Dr. Raul Lopez and our team at West Texas Pain Institute have seen the mental and emotional battle that goes on behind the scenes in our patients who have chronic pain. That’s why we’re dedicated to helping you find the right pain management solution, so you can start feeling better from the inside out. 

Here’s everything you should know about your chronic pain, its impact on your mental health, and how we can help. 

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain refers to pain that goes away and comes back, lasts longer than 3-6 months, and interferes with your daily life. It’s one of the most common reasons adults seek medical attention every year. 

Though many Americans live with chronic pain, it looks different for everyone. Some of the most common chronic pain conditions range from localized pain in your back or neck caused by nerve damage or irritation to a wide-spread pain condition called fibromyalgia

How does chronic pain affect your mental health?

Chronic pain is far from just aching bones and sore muscles. It’s a whole-body condition that takes a toll on your emotions and moods and can lead to significant mental health issues. Take a closer look at the link between chronic pain and mental health. 

Addiction

When you live with chronic pain, finding relief is paramount. Oftentimes that means turning to prescription painkillers or opioids, which are used to address severe or persistent pain. Unfortunately, opioids are extremely addictive, and approximately 29% of patients eventually misuse them. 

When it feels like pain medication is the only way to find relief, it can be easy to become addicted to the solution, but Dr. Lopez can help you manage your prescriptions safely.

Anxiety and depression

Chronic pain can significantly impact your moods and emotions because it causes chronic stress. When your body is in pain, it responds by releasing certain stress hormones and neurochemicals. This abnormal chemical reaction makes mood and behavior regulation much more difficult and can bring on anxiety and depression. 

It’s also likely that you can’t work and play the way you used to when you live with chronic pain, which can contribute to mental health issues as well. This type of pain that takes you away from at least one major life activity is known as high-impact pain — approximately 8% of all chronic pain patients have high-impact pain. 

Lack of focus

If you’ve ever had a stomach ache or a mild headache, you know that when you don’t feel your best, it can be all-consuming. This is amplified when you have severe or widespread chronic pain, making focusing on work, family, and your other responsibilities a real challenge. 

How can we address your chronic pain?

Because the causes of chronic pain vary from patient to patient, we take the time to understand your unique situation and needs. 

After meeting with Dr. Lopez to discuss your health history and specific symptoms, he recommends a treatment plan that will fit into your lifestyle. Depending on your needs, he suggests the following treatments:

To help you manage your pain-related mental health issues, he can also recommend mental health counseling in addition to physical pain treatments. 

Talk to Dr. Lopez about any treatments you’ve tried in the past and discuss your symptoms with him in detail, including your mental and emotional concerns. The more honest you are about your needs, the easier it is for him to help you find fast relief from both physical pain and your mental health issues. 

If you’d like more information or would like to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Lopez, you can request an appointment online or over the phone at our El Paso, Texas location today. 

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