As we get older, chronic pain becomes an increasingly serious risk. Some of us may simply hurt our back in our sleep, or we may cause some unintended damage during exercise, or we can suffer from any range of injuries or ailments that lead to chronic pain. Besides that pain itself, there are real health risks associated with it we have to be aware of.
It can make it harder to sleep
One of the most common consequences of a life with chronic pain is that sleep quality can take an immediate and serious dip. Many people find trouble getting comfortable at night, and wake up in the middle of the night due to pain flaring up. Sleeplessness can heighten our sensitivity to pain, making our daily symptoms worse, while also making us more likely to suffer from stress, and dulling our cognitive abilities in what is known as a “brain fog.” All of these can make long-term recovery harder, so finding means to treat sleep deprivation can be essential.
It can affect our mental health
As mentioned, lacking sleep can increase our feelings of stress, but chronic pain’s emotional health impacts are well-known now. If you’re dealing with chronic pain, then you are also more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression. Both stress and anxiety can increase our pain sensitivity, and can even physically cause more pain, as stress causes our muscles to be tenser, which can lead to more pressure on our backs, joints, and so on. When talking to your doctor about your health, don’t ignore the mental side.
Substance abuse is a serious risk
If your treatment becomes less and less effective over time, especially your medication, then that can put you in a very vulnerable situation. Nowadays, more and more substance abuse disorders begin with the improper use of prescribed medication. Opting for more dangerous self-medication may start as an effort to treat pain, but can lead to real addiction. Knowing a local drug rehab center and being willing to reach out for help is essential. Learn about some of the signs that you might be dealing with a substance abuse problem and be decisive if you think you are.
We can become less physically active
While it does not seem as serious, physical inactivity can be just as dangerous to our health in the long term as any of the risks mentioned above. In most cases, exercise isn’t impossible, even if we worry about the pain it might cause. Talk to your doctor about low impact exercises and do what you can to ensure your body gets the physical activity it deserves without injury. Otherwise, you’re more likely to experience worse chronic pain down the line, not to mention a slew of chronic health issues you could avoid, such as diabetes and heart disease.
How we manage pain, how it affects our daily life, and how our physical and mental health is linked are all very serious. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you think your chronic pain is affecting your life in some serious and scary ways.