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Avera Medical Minute: Dealing with chronic pain

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 6:18 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than a few months, even years. For those who suffer from chronic pain, it can be debilitating. Dr. Jonathan Buchanan, a Sports Medicine Physician with Avera Orthopedics says there is hope for those who are experiencing chronic pain .

Miranda: What is considered chronic pain?

Dr. Buchanan: All pain is sensed in the brain and it’s all processed at the level of the brain. So if you have the pain receptors constantly being hit in the brain they start to become more sensitized and as a result things that try to treat the pain tend to become less effective over time. You know a lot of patience maybe sprain their ankle and then they have a lot of pain associated with ankle sprain and they mobilize it for a long time and keep it from moving and then they don’t use it as much and it becomes stiff and then you get the stiffness on top of the sprained ankle and then the skin becomes sensitive because it’s had this brace on it for so long so even something like a ankle sprain can turn into chronic pain.

Miranda: What are the most common causes for chronic pain?

Dr. Buchanan: The most common things are degenerative things, repetitive things that you are doing at work when you’re constantly twisting or screwing a screwdriver or hammers. Your tendons tend to be overused and tend to become more sensitive as a result. And then you have arthritis so the joint starts to wear out, the cartilage starts to wear out, the bone underneath gets exposed or sensitive.

Miranda: What treatment options are available to those experiencing chronic pain?

Dr. Buchanan: The most common thing that is used to treat pain pills and I think that’s probably the wrong place to go. You’d be amazed at how effective exercise can be at treating chronic pain. If you simply use your muscles you automatically release in your body pain relievers. They’re called endorphins and they use the exact same receptors as your morphine and your codine and your hoxycodin, the pain pills. But the difference is The receptors in your brain after exercise get the same pain relief without the addictions without the tolerance you get from the pills.

Miranda: Is there anything else you’d like to add or you think would be important for people to know about chronic pain?

Dr. Buchanan: Because of the anxiety and depression related to chronic pain the biggest message I can give is that there really is hope. That you don’t have to live with chronic pain forever. You don’t have to be on the pills forever to treat chronic pain. You got to find the source of the pain and you’ve got to find ways to treat it by restoring function. Sometimes injections can help. There’s a lot that can be done to deal with chronic pain.

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