Understanding pain and chronic conditions.
What is pain?
We know what pain is. We’ve all experienced it at one time or another. It’s the physical suffering caused by injury or disease – our body’s way of warning us that there is tissue damage or other dysfunction present.
In many cases, people experience acute pain as a direct result of a broken bone, surgery, a burn or a scraped knee. Acute pain often goes away following treatment and generally lasts a short period of time – from a few days to several weeks. However, if left untreated, it may become chronic.
Chronic pain is discomfort that lasts more than six months – even after an injury has healed. Chronic pain is also associated with conditions such as a herniated disc, sciatica, arthritis, migraine, carpel tunnel syndrome or neuropathy. Persistent discomfort causes stress on the body and can also have a negative effect on our emotional state, causing additional symptoms of anxiety or depression.
How are the different types of pain classified?
Collectively, acute and chronic pain can be classified into two main categories: nociceptive pain and non nociceptive pain.
Nociceptive pain is a result of receptors in body responding to external stimuli (heat, cold, stretching, etc.). In this case, the pain is coming from damaged cells. Somatic pain and visceral pain are two sub-classifications of nociceptive pain, with somatic pain relating to the musculo-skeletal system and visceral pain relating to the internal organs.
Non nociceptive pain occurs in the peripheral and central nervous system and is caused by nerve cell dysfunction unrelated to a receptor’s response to stimuli. Sub-classifications of non nociceptive pain include neuropathic pain and sympathetic pain. Neuropathic pain is the result of spinal cord injury and damage to the peripheral nervous system, while sympathetic pain suggests an overactive sympathetic (involuntary) and the central nervous system (not limited to only the spinal cord).
What are the treatment options?
Brand name drugs
Common brand name pain medications include Celebrex, Cymbalta, Demerol and Lortab. Your doctor will prescribe a drug based on how your pain is classified, and he or she may also prescribe additional medication for secondary conditions (such as anxiety resulting from living with chronic pain).
Taking brand name prescription drugs for chronic conditions gets really expensive, really fast. We offer two economical solutions.
First, try our prescription discount card. We have found that most cardholders save between 10-20% off the everyday price at the pharmacy.
Unfortunately for many without insurance as an option that may still me more money than they have each month. So we also offer a fee-based consumer advocacy service that regularly works with people who are struggling to pay for expensive prescription. Therefore, we recognize the service we provide must be affordable. We’ll help you identify prescription assistance programs that supply your expensive medication for free - or for a very low cost - compared to the retail cost you might have to pay if you are uninsured. But you must qualify based on your household income level, insurance status and other factors. Contact us to learn more.
These days there are more and more generic drugs prescribed for pain management. These are good drugs that were the brand name drugs just a few years ago and now are offer by multiple generic drug manufacturers. Drugs like Tramadol, 800mg Ibuprofen, and even gabapentin, which is traditionally an anti-seizure medication but has been prescribed, off label, as a shingles treatment. For these and other pain management generic drugs this discount card can be a lifesaver as most of these prescriptions are available for less than $10 per month.
In conjunction with a drug treatment plan, there are also natural options that can help you manage pain more effectively. Alternative methods include: acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, nerve block injections, spinal cord stimulations, eletrothermal therapy and bioeclectric therapy. Recommended lifestyle changes include moderate exercise (as approved by your doctor), stress management, sufficient sleep and a healthy diet – all of which boost your immune system and your body’s ability to repair itself.