6 Lesser Known Symptoms of Chronic Pain
Pain hurts ― and chronic pain hurts almost all the time. While some causes of chronic pain are well-understood, sometimes pain just happens, and doctors are at a loss to explain why. Unfortunately, most chronic sufferers rarely tolerate just the burning, shocking, shooting, or aching pain alone; chronic pain comes with a slew of side effects that can make life utterly unbearable. As one might expect, chronic pain patients tend to be irritable and anxious, and many succumb to depression, but alongside these common and understandable symptoms are a few that chronic pain sufferers rarely discuss.
If you or someone you know might be experiencing chronic pain ― which is commonly defined as pain lasting longer than 12 weeks ― you might have noticed some or all the following odd symptoms of pain.
1. Muscle Weakness
Muscle weakness is the sensation that your full effort isn’t enough to produce a normal muscle’s movement. Often, muscle weakness is associated with fatigue; if you are exhausted overall, it’s unlikely your body has enough energy to power your muscles. However, with common pain sufferers, muscle weakness can occur for another reason: Pain. You might be able to make your arms and legs move, but shooting or aching pains make you hesitant to engage your muscles.
Weak muscles increase the likelihood of a dangerous drop or fall ― which, in turn, could worsen your pain. Before your muscle weakness severely impacts your life, you should seek chronic pain treatment at a Michigan facility.
2. Decreased Appetite
Almost everyone has experienced a lessened desire to eat, usually due to illness or disgust. Chronic pain sufferers tend to have decreased appetites for a variety of reasons; you might not even think about food while your pain is so acute, or you might be on medications that encourage your body to ignore the symptoms of hunger.
Decreased appetite is exceedingly dangerous. For one, pain often increases when the body is hungry. For another, lack of food will cause malnutrition, which causes all sorts of additional pain and discomfort. Studies have found that diets rich in protein and low in carbohydrates can lessen your pain and improve your quality of life.
3. Lower Immunity
When you experience pain, your body is flooded with stress hormones that prepare your various systems to fight or flee from danger. Unfortunately, chronic exposure to pain and stress slows the body’s reaction. As a result, chronic pain tends to suppress the immune system, so when germs are introduced into a chronic sufferer’s environment, the sufferer is more likely to become sick and remain sick for longer. Any infection can kill you ― even the common cold ― so it is important that you strive to boost your immune system even while you experience chronic pain.
4. Excessive Sweating
Though not necessarily dangerous, excessive sweating is uncomfortable and embarrassing, and most chronic sufferers would prefer it to go away. Pain triggers all sorts of hormone responses, and in some people, that means sweat glands kick into overdrive. There are a few medical treatments to excessive sweating, but likely few doctors will be eager to conduct treatments if you already experience chronic pain. A strong antiperspirant and light clothing might be all you need to get by.
5. Sensitivity to Touch
Before you began enduring your chronic pain, you might have enjoyed a handshake, cherished a hug, and relished the idea of a massage ― but now, you might loathe the idea of any kind of touch. Also called allodynia, sensitivity to touch is as emotionally taxing as it is physically uncomfortable. Increased skin sensitivity is likely caused by sensory neuropathy, or damage to the sensory nerves; this can be the result of chronic disorders like kidney disease, medications, alcohol abuse, or simply inflammation. Over time, this might lead to muscle atrophy or physical disfigurements, so the sooner you consult a doctor about it, the better.
6. Sensitivity to Smell
Besides touch, you might be sensitive to any other sense. For example, your pain might be triggered by bright lights or repetitive sounds. However, almost as common as allodynia is sensitivity to smell or fragrance. Before your pain, you might have barely noticed a friend’s perfume, but now that your nerves are on edge, you might be seriously troubled by any odor in your environment. Some medications can help with sensitivities, but they can also cause other discomfiting side effects, so it might be easiest to rid your home of any smelly stuff.
Author: Michael Ramos