Watch Out for Residual Pain
Chronic Pain Relief: Page 3
Why it's important: As pain becomes chronic, it can lead to changes in the central nervous system -- including the spinal cord - that get worse, not better, as time goes on. Experts don't fully understand this type of pain yet, but research shows that inflammation and pathological changes can sensitize nerve signaling pathways so that pain becomes amplified and residual, meaning it continues after the original injury is treated and healed.
What to do: Some medications originally developed to treat depression and seizures can be effective in controlling chronic residual pain. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants at low dosages seem to calm sensitized nerves and interrupt the affected nerve signals. The 2011 IOM report defines chronic pain as pain that continues after the original injury as healed -- in other words, as residual pain, and paves the way for more doctors to understand and treat this type of pain.
Tip: Make sure your doctor has you rate your pain on a pain intensity scale, in which 1-3 is mild pain and 10 is unbearable. This will give her a clear idea of how debilitating you find this condition. Then discuss trying one of the more popular nerve pain medications, which are usually given at a titrating (gradually increasing) dose. It may take two or three different medications before you find the one that brings longterm relief.