In Germany, several million people suffer from pain syndrome. There is acute and chronic pain. While acute pain results from an injury or organ disorder and is considered a warning sign, chronic pain, the pain syndrome, develops from acute pain into an independent illness.
What is pain syndrome?
Pain syndrome is a condition of pain for which no concrete causes could be determined, but which has nevertheless become a clinical picture. This is chronic (long-lasting) pain. In the case of pain syndrome, the person affected feels the suffering, which, however, has no physical causes. See biotionary for What does CLS stand for.
The pain is nevertheless a burden, so that in many cases therapy is necessary. In the case of a pain syndrome, the chronic sensation of pain lasts for at least six months or recurs at short intervals.
It is possible for the chronic pain disorder to appear suddenly, for example after an illness, but it can also set in insidiously, for example due to burnout, permanent, excessive physical exertion, overstimulation of the nervous system.
Chronic pain is often triggered and maintained by a disease in the body. In addition, however, psychological factors also play a decisive role in the pain syndrome. The causes sometimes include diseases or disorders of the musculoskeletal system, for example joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Changes in the nervous system, such as polyneuropathy, can also trigger the pain syndrome. Psychological factors are very often the cause of pain syndrome. This also applies to the degree of severity, the pain experience or the maintenance of the pain.
Pain that results from a physical cause, such as a herniated disc or tension, can easily become chronic if the following psychological factors are present:
- stress and emotional strain
- Anxiety that is pain related
- Restraints and incorrect postures
- Persistence strategies as dysfunctional behavior patterns
- Sensations and possible consequences of illness are dramatized
- fear of pain
With regard to the perception of pain, the effects of previous experiences are often included. The interpretation of the stimuli and the behavior that is controlled accordingly are significantly influenced. Acute pain stimuli lead to fear conditioning. This can trigger and intensify the pain, which increases the level of suffering.
In those affected, this leads to excessive expectations of the sensation, combined with fear, which is often a constant companion. The pain determines the behavior of those affected, because they want to absorb the stress through adaptive reactions. It is therefore important not to attach too much importance to the pain syndrome in this case.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The main symptoms of pain syndrome include chronic pain that can occur in different parts of the body, constant tiredness, concentration problems up to exhaustion and sleep disorders. The back, neck, chest and joints are often affected by the pain.
The recovery phases after exertion are unnaturally long. Headaches, migraines and toothaches also often occur with pain syndrome. The symptoms have been present for at least three months. The pain syndrome also manifests itself in side symptoms, such as swelling in the feet, hands or face, morning stiffness, and irritable bowel, stomach and bladder.
Hypersensitivity of the mucous membranes to increased anxiety, irritability, mood swings and depression. In addition, the sensitivity to noise, light and cold is often increased.
The symptoms also include cardiac arrhythmia, dizziness, trembling hands, kidney pain, numbness, increased vein signs, nervous extremities, cramps in the leg muscles, period pain, a tendency to sweat more and a [sexual reluctance|declining sexual interest]].
Diagnosis & course of disease
Diagnosing the pain syndrome is time-consuming due to the very diverse forms it takes. A pain diary, in which all situations in which the pain occurs is recorded, has proven its worth. All symptoms are also noted. The intensity of the pain should be indicated on a scale.
Often the life situation of the person affected must also be taken into account, as relationships and feelings often influence the perception of pain. This is accompanied by a physical, orthopedic and neurological examination, for example by means of ultrasound, CT, magnetic resonance imaging and neurophysiological diagnostics.
On the one hand, this serves the purpose of identifying diseases, but on the other hand, to rule them out in the case of pain syndrome. Incorrect handling of the sensation is often to blame for the disease getting worse. Those affected often rest more to make the pain more bearable. Rest, however, leads to muscle breakdown and reduced fitness and performance, which can increase pain and lead to a downward spiral.
Due to the constant stress caused by the pain, mental illnesses such as depression and burnout as well as an increasing deterioration in mood can also occur. Pain syndrome can also cause significant social consequences, leading to a loss of hobbies, friends and often problems at work.
First and foremost, those affected by pain syndrome suffer from severe pain. These themselves occur primarily chronically, so that they also occur at night and can lead to sleep disorders or depression and irritability in the affected person. Furthermore, it can lead to severe tiredness and exhaustion of the patient.
Most of those affected cannot concentrate and suffer from severe headaches or toothaches. Furthermore, the pain syndrome also leads to mood swings and a high sensitivity to noise and light. However, the further course of the pain syndrome depends heavily on its cause.
As a rule, organ damage is responsible for this, so that it must be treated. The syndrome can also lead to heart problems or paralysis and other sensory disturbances. The treatment is always causal and depends on reducing the pain and treating the damaged tissue. Complications usually do not arise. However, most patients are still dependent on various therapies to restore movement in the affected regions.
When should you go to the doctor?
The pain syndrome should usually always be treated by a doctor. This disease cannot heal itself, so the affected person always needs medical treatment. This is the only way to prevent further complications and other problems. Self-healing does not occur in most cases of pain syndrome. A doctor should be consulted for pain syndrome, especially if the person concerned suffers from very severe pain that occurs continuously and without any particular reason.
They do not go away on their own and have a negative impact on the quality of life of those affected. Permanent tiredness and exhaustion can also indicate the pain syndrome and should be examined by a doctor. Many patients also suffer from sleep problems, which can even lead to depression. If these symptoms occur, a doctor must also be consulted.
In the case of pain syndrome, a general practitioner can be consulted in the first place. Further treatment depends heavily on the type of pain and its originating region and is carried out by a specialist. The further course cannot be universally predicted.
Treatment & Therapy
In order to successfully treat pain syndrome, the cause and factors that increase the pain must first be identified. Medication as well as physiological, psychological and social measures provide support. On the one hand, medication can change the perception of pain and, on the other hand, it is possible to interrupt the faulty transmission of pain impulses.
Nonsteroidal anti -inflammatory drugs are often used for mild pain, and opioids for moderate and severe pain. It must always be ensured that no dependency arises. Anti-epileptic drugs are often prescribed for nerve pain. The following are also helpful in treating pain syndrome:
- Physiotherapy and occupational therapy
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation
- Autogenic training or other relaxation methods
- exercise therapy
- Local anaesthetics, for example for migraines
- Change in lifestyle and diet
The therapy is basically dependent on the cause and is therefore determined individually. Often the pain cannot be completely eliminated, but it can at least be reduced to a tolerable level.
To avoid pain syndrome, exercise can not hurt. It is also important that a specialist is consulted if the pain persists. A healthy lifestyle and diet, avoiding stress and a stable social environment also play a role.
Chronic pain is a daily burden for every patient. In the case of pain syndrome, the symptoms last for at least six months. The disease is treated with physiotherapy and psychotherapy. This also applies to aftercare. The aim of the follow-up care is a conscious handling of the chronic pain. In addition, the symptoms should be alleviated and the quality of life of those affected should be improved. This makes everyday life easier for him to cope with.
The sick person can receive medicine against the pain syndrome from the specialist doctor. During aftercare, the healing progress is regularly checked. An increased dose or more appropriate medication is required if there is no noticeable improvement in the patient’s condition. Chronic pain often causes depression. The patient suffers from this as well.
Psychotherapy counteracts this situation. During the sessions, the patient has the opportunity to talk about his or her feelings. Fear of further flare-ups is also common in pain syndrome. In such cases, behavioral therapy is useful.
Stressful social contacts are another cause of pain. The patient should refrain from such acquaintances in the future. His general condition can improve significantly after this decision. Dealing with his illness with understanding also has a positive effect on his well-being.
You can do that yourself
The pain syndrome represents a particular challenge for the patient and their relatives. In the field of self-help, the person affected is well advised to work closely with a medical specialist. Changes and abnormalities should always be discussed with a pain therapist.
In addition, there are various mental techniques that can be used independently and without further medical care. They serve to reduce stress and change conscious perception. Techniques such as yoga, meditation, hypnosisor autogenic training can be used regularly to achieve an improvement in general health. Although these methods are not about achieving freedom from symptoms, they help to improve well-being in everyday life. Mental strength is supported so that the patient can deal with the pain syndrome more optimally. The aim is to reduce the perception of pain, at least temporarily, and to direct the focus of attention to other areas of life.
A positive basic attitude towards yourself and life is also beneficial and can be used in the context of self-help. Cognitive techniques help to improve the quality of life for those affected. Dealing with topics outside of one’s own sphere of activity can provide relief.