Whenever a new year comes around, talk often circles around resolutions. What do people want to do to get closer to their goals and dreams?
If you suffer from chronic pain, however, such ambitions might feel futile and even anguishing to consider.
Chronic pain has a way of disrupting the clock you once set your daily life by. You may not be able to do your work or the things you loved as often as you used to—if you can do them at all. Nights can go sleepless, days listless, and everything just starts to blend and blur together.
Whether you have only recently had chronic pain disrupt your life, or have had it as an unwanted companion for some time now, it can be difficult to think of setting goals for the future.
Of course, you might have “Getting rid of your pain for good!” as your primary goal. And that’s a great goal to have! But if your efforts have not born fruit so far, it is very easy for stress and despair to set in.
At our practice, we seek to help patients who suffer from chronic pain due to nerve-related problems. We have had success with a great many people, from those recovering from sports injuries to those who have had other doctors unable to determine just where the source of their pain originates.
However, for as much as we want to help everyone we can, it is an unfortunate fact that we are unable to solve all problems, or solve some problems completely. This is not to say that these conditions are hopeless, but that the journey to relief and management extends beyond our office.
No matter where you are, if you are fighting against chronic pain, we would like to send some advice and encouragement your way—especially around the beginning of the year, when the stresses of the holiday season and the turn of the calendar can sometimes feel especially trying.
Your Pain is Real
The way that some people approach another’s chronic pain—even with the best of intentions—can be highly frustrating or discouraging.
Some people in your life may try to egg you on to participate in certain activities and just “ignore the pain.” Others might suggest a variety of different techniques they glean off the Internet, wanting to help but never fully understanding the situation.
Worst might be doctors who tell you that they have not found anything out of the ordinary after examinations and testing.
Now, there is rarely anything negligent on the part of these physicians when they say this. They are trained and educated in certain areas, and problems such as complicated nerve issues can go entirely undetected. Even so, to be told by a doctor that they can’t find the source pain you feel constantly can be heartbreaking.
If this is the situation you have found yourself in, months after recovery or surgery, please contact our office if you have not already. We might be able to help if it is determined that the problem is related to an injured, compressed, or otherwise stressed nerve or nerves.
Help Can Come from a Variety of Places
The search for relief can be arduous—not just physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. Any resource you can find that has a positive effect on your well-being is one worth pursuing.
We have previously discussed the psychological effects that chronic pain from a sports injury can have on one’s athletic dreams. However, many of these negative thoughts and feelings can apply in many other situations, too. You may feel a loss of purpose, or that you are letting others down by being in pain. These are feelings nobody who suffers chronic pain deserves to have.
It is OK to feel overwhelmed by stress and circumstances, but it is critical to have a positive outlet for these feelings. There are many resources and professionals that can help you with pain management, mental health, and spiritual edification.
In his book The Problem of Pain, C.S. Lewis states, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists on being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains.”
Some might find it a bit odd for a medical professional to recommend spiritual support, but one’s spiritual faith may play a critical role in recovery. As long as a form of support has no negative consequences, we support it.
One of the frustrating components of chronic pain is it frequently strips us of our apparent self-sufficiency. As a surgeon, working with patients of chronic pain, we acknowledge that we do not have every answer to chronic pain ourselves. Treatment frequently takes a team.
We highly encourage working together with physical therapists, psychologists, family, employers, spiritual leaders, and others for optimal outcomes.
Incremental Steps Are Still Victories
Your pain may not fully go away with one type of treatment or procedure. It may never fully go away at all. But every step you take toward relieving and managing your pain is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
In this regard, we often think of a patient we treated for nerve pain following breast cancer surgery.
In this case, we were able to reduce her pain significantly, but not entirely (how we wish we could have!).
Even so, while her pain is not fully relieved, she is still pursuing her goals of horse riding once more. She may not be able to do it as freely as she could in the past, but it’s still a significant step forward in her ambitions.
It is never fair that you have come to experience chronic pain, but do not let that deny you of seeing each and every victory that you reach.
Chronic pain can change plans, but it does not destroy your self-worth. You are worthy of seeking every form of help and assistance you can.
Our Towson office is here for you if you wish to reach out to us with questions or to schedule an appointment. Call us at (410) 709-3868 or fill out our online contact form to have a member of our staff respond to you.