It’s All Relative

Living A Pain-Full Life

Like most teenage girls, in my years prior to turning sixteen, I spent a good handful of nights babysitting whenever I needed to earn a few bucks for the movies or some shopping that weekend. After a few successful hours spent watching kids, I ended up turning babysitting into a rather lucrative business, and by junior year I was nanny-ing five days a week for eight hours a day during the summer. The hours spent watching other people’s children were ones in which I learned a lot of things: that kids need a constant amount of attention, that it’s never easy to calm a crying child, and that kids have an endless bounty of attention.

Whether they were friends of the family, or acquaintances from neighbors, all of the kids that I watched stayed in my life for years after they had surpassed their babysitting needs. One in particular, actually became my cousin several years after I started watching her, and holds a lesson in babysitting that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. At the age of thirteen, while babysitting my now-cousin, I heard the unmistakable sound of glass shattering, followed by the wailing of the man next door. Freshly a teen, it was a terrifying sound to be sure, and yet I found my toes pointed toward the door, ready to help wherever possible. Upon entering the room I found the man keeled over on the floor, crippled head to toe with searing pain.

What I know, that I didn’t know then, was that the man suffered from chronic pain, the kind that debilitates the body in every way. That particular day, my now-cousin’s neighbor had experienced an intense spasm that ran throughout his back, cramping his arms (including his hand which was holding the baking pan) and legs, which left him writhing on the floor until I found him. This story is unfortunately all too familiar to those suffering from chronic pain, and with nearly 4.5% of the global population experiencing some sort of neuropathic pain, it’s become something worth talking about.

Of course, chronic pain is characterized by pain that persists for many years at a time, while adversely affecting a person’s life, is different than acute pain, which results from injury or illness, and gets better over time. The two, while debilitating at the time, are actually very different and affect the means in which you will be able to receive treatment. If you or someone you know suffers from seemingly endless pain, understanding the cause will help your doctor properly diagnose and ultimately treat your pain.

Acute Pain

• Begins suddenly
• Sharp in quality
• Usually is a symptom of an underlying cause
• Might last for a moment but can last for up months at a time
• Usually does not last for longer than six months at a time
• Typically disappears when the underlying cause is treated

Chronic Pain

• May begin with no warning and no evidence of bodily damage
• Might be a sign of an underlying symptom but will persist even after the injury has healed
• Often exists without any underlying symptoms
• Previous bodily trauma is not always the causes

In either case, the pain is both severe enough to inhibit a person from experiencing everyday life, and is considered more than a small nuisance to everyday life. When the pain becomes too much to bear and you’re ready to seek the help of a professional pain management institute, be prepared to discuss with your physician the length of time that your pain has lasted, how it came about, and whether or not you had an injury prior to your pain being experienced. In most cases you can expect to be evaluated on the duration of your pain, the intensity, the type (is it a burning sensation or more of a heaviness), and location in the body. Seeking the help of a professional will help get your body if not back to normal, then operating at an easier level of pain, so that you can get back to your everyday routine and enjoy life once more.