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Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain can have many effects on a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. For people who need to work to make a living, chronic pain can be a burden on their everyday lives, both at work and at home. In fact, the chronic pain might become so difficult to bear that it becomes difficult to impossible to function at work. If so, they will likely need to find a way to pay bills without going to work, and this is a good time to seek Social Security disability insurance. People who have been working for years are likely to be eligible for disability benefits in terms of the number of hours worked, but they need to find out if they qualify under a disability that’s covered in the Blue Book.

What is Chronic Pain?

With acute pain, such as the kind that a person experiences after an injury, the pain goes away once the part of the body is healed. In contrast, chronic pain syndrome is a type of pain that doesn’t go away even after the injury has healed. The pain lingers for longer than six months and can be accompanied by several physical and psychological health problems.

Many times, chronic pain coincides with other illnesses that involve long-term pain. For example, stroke, endometriosis, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, and fibromyalgia are all diseases that are often accompanied by chronic pain. Another time that a person might experience chronic pain is after an injury even if it has healed. For instance, damage to a shoulder could have lingering effects that can’t be medically explained by another reason.

Some people think that the cause of chronic pain is psychologically based, but research and expert opinion indicate that the more likely cause of the pain is based in abnormalities in certain glands and the interaction between the glands. More specifically, it’s likely the interactions between the pituitary gland, the hypothalamus, and adrenal glands. Research has also shown that low levels of endorphins, which are responsible for regulating pain signals, in the spinal fluid are also linked with chronic pain.

Symptoms of Chronic Pain

There are several symptoms, both physical and psychological, of chronic pain. Some of the physical symptoms include low back pain, muscle aches, joint pain, headaches, jolts of sharp pain, and tingling or burning pain throughout the body.

Some people might also experience psychological symptoms. For instance, they might feel depression, fear, anxiety, fatigue, and difficulties sleeping. Many times, the experience of the psychological symptoms are caused by the stress of not being able to manage their pain. For instance, its reasonable to expect that someone who is in constant pain would feel depression or anxiety. It’s also reasonable to expect someone with chronic pain to have difficulties sleeping and, therefore, feel fatigue. All of these symptoms can also feed into each other.

People who think that they might be struggling with chronic pain syndrome should also know that they can experience any of these symptoms or a combination of them. For instance, a person suffering from chronic pain might not experience joint pain, but they might have headaches, muscles aches, and depression. Otherwise, they might experience joint pain with jolts of sharp pain and fatigue.

When a person is experiencing chronic pain, it’s unlikely that it will spontaneously get better. And since chronic pain can be stressful, some people with it also experience strains on their close relationship as they’re no longer able to do the things that they’ve always done with their friends and family.

Treatment for Chronic Pain

There are several treatments that can be used on people who experience chronic pain. Some of them are lifestyle changes, but some are also surgery, therapy, and medications.

One of the most prescribed lifestyle changes include getting exercise on a regular basis. The type of exercise should be low-impact. For instance, swimming, yoga, and cycling are all good options. Maintaining a consistent sleeping schedule where naps are avoided can be helpful, and quitting smoking can be instrumental in controlling chronic pain.

Some of the medications that a doctor might prescribe include anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and opioids.

For therapeutic treatments, there are both physical and mental forms. Some of the physical forms of therapy include acupuncture, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Acupuncture can be useful because it’s known to promote self-healing. Occupational therapy can help people lessen and manage the pain, and it can also help people get back to work by strengthening certain muscles and improving flexibility. Similarly, physical therapy can be useful in helping people learn exercises that can limit their pain.

Some of the mental forms of therapy include hypnosis, relaxation techniques, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Some of the relaxation techniques that a therapist might ask a patient to do include visualization, meditation, and deep breathing.

People with chronic pain might also have to undergo surgery to treat the underlying condition that’s causing the chronic pain. For instance, if the chronic pain is associated with a stroke, they might undergo a surgery to help repair the damage that was done during the stroke.

Disability Benefits for Chronic Pain

When a person has chronic pain, they might come to a point where they need disability benefits because they are no longer able to work. Knowing the criteria that they need to meet is one of the first steps in identifying whether or not they will qualify for Social Security disability benefits for chronic pain. Another important step is documenting the symptoms and dates of diagnosis of any underlying issues and the severity of the pain.

While chronic pain isn’t specifically listed as a disability in the Social Security disability benefits Blue Book, which could automatically qualify someone with a disability, there are other ways that a person with chronic pain can qualify for disability benefits.

Since people can’t qualify for disability insurance solely on the basis of having chronic pain, they must also have lab tests, x-rays, or other kinds of medically verifiable tests that show reason why they would have chronic pain.

A person must also establish that their symptoms and the impairment will last or has already lasted for at least a year. The symptoms and impairment must be ongoing throughout this period of time, too.

Since chronic pain isn’t a listed disability in the Blue Book, people should instead look at whether or not they qualify under any disabilities that are. For instance, some of the disorders that are related to chronic pain include inflammatory arthritis, neurological disorders, back injury, somatoform disorders, chronic renal disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Another route is for a person to see if they meet the residual functional capacity criteria. To be honest, this can be the more difficult route because it’s very difficult to measure pain, so people who don’t meet the criteria for another listing should be very thorough in their documentation of how their pain limits their activities.

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