Q: I’ve had shoulder pain for a couple of years, and the constant low-level agony is making me nuts. What should I do? — Johnny M., Akron, Ohio
A: More than 100 million North Americans live with chronic pain, and, as you indicated, it does a lot more than just make you feel achy. Chronic pain is associated with a three- to fourfold increase in the rate of depression and anxiety, and most folks also have problems with sleep, memory, attention, high blood pressure and resulting cardio problems, not to mention sexual dysfunction. Chronic pain actually can damage your most valued relationships.
The most common sources (not related to cancer) are degenerative spine disease, lower-back pain, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis (perhaps in your shoulder), fibromyalgia, HIV, migraine, nerve pain and complications of shingles.
The first step is to get the right diagnosis from a specialist (maybe a second opinion, too). If pain medications are suggested, ask about a pain-management specialist who knows how to do nerve-dampening blocks and how to safely put you on (and take you off of) potentially addictive drugs.
But we’re huge fans of using wellness to control pain!
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