Writing is a therapeutic activity for me as it helps calm my mind, reduces my pain levels, and allows me to try and help others from afar. Over the last two weeks I repeatedly opened a new word document to write my next article only to find myself closing the program down after a few sentences. This process repeated over and over again, and I chalked it up to writers block.
The other day as I was sitting on my computer thinking more critically about why I could not put words on paper as I kept fidgeting in every direction in my wheelchair unable to find a comfortable position. I started to notice the pain in my neck has slowly been increasing over the last several weeks for no immediately obvious reason. I had not changed anything in my routine, my diet, my exercise program, etc., but the piercing feeling of knives running down the scar on the back of my neck from one of my surgeries continued to persist. This new pain has prevented me from maintaining my laser focus as I am usually accustomed to.
This prompted me to think about chronic pain more critically. I scrolled back through many of my articles over the last several years and realized I have never taken the time to describe what chronic pain means to me and likely for the millions who suffer from it too.
Pain stems from inflammation in the body because inflammation is part of the immune system’s response to danger. It’s a hugely complicated process to prepare our body to fight off hostile forces. There are two main types of pain in our body – Acute Pain and Chronic Pain.
Acute pain usually comes on suddenly and is caused by something specific. Acute pain does not last longer than six months and goes away when there’s no longer an underlying cause for the pain such as surgery, broken bones, dental work, burns or cuts, etc.
Chronic pain is ongoing and usually last longer than six months. This type of pain can continue even after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or gone away. Pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or years. Chronic pain can include headaches, nerve pain, cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia, etc.
A majority of folks who sustain a spinal cord injury suffer from extreme chronic pain in many forms after their accident. Before I broke my neck I would look at somebody in a wheelchair and wonder what they felt? … I thought they couldn’t feel their legs or their stomach, etc. I was epically wrong! Continue reading