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The chains of chronic pain

Doctors can’t see it, touch it or measure it. They often have to rely on the patient’s word that it even exists, what form it takes and with what frequency it appears. It is chronic pain; a debilitating condition that can be difficult to diagnose and effectively treat.

Chronic pain can often lead a person into depression that adds another layer of difficulties in dealing with everyday problems such as raising children, the ups and downs of married life and maintaining employment. However, antidepressants can be a crucial part of an array of tools needed to combat chronic pain.

PBS recently spoke to a woman who has been battling chronic pain that began last year. She developed pain in her tongue; pain her dentist was unable to halt. She went to an oral surgeon who recommended a surgical procedure to “snip” tissue between the tongue and bottom of the mouth.

After the procedure, her pain skyrocketed to a new level, preventing her on some days from even being able to speak or eat.

The woman says her doctors believe she might have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome; a condition in which people’s bodies react to a minor procedure (like the “snip”) with a reflex of devastating pain more commensurate with a “major assault.”

The result is a life suddenly consumed and controlled by pain.

The woman in this case notes that she is fortunate to work for a  nonprofit research and consulting organization that accommodates her need to be able to work from home several times per week so that she “can hibernate and suck on ice chips” on bad pain days.

Others with similar chronic pain are not as fortunate and are forced from jobs and careers by chronic pain. They still have options, however, including Social Security Disability. An SSDI attorney can help them deal with the difficult appeals process. 

Source: PBS Newshour, “Can antidepressants offer hope to those suffering chronic pain?” Ruth Tam, July 9, 2014

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