Many factors can pose a significant challenge to doctors in managing chronic abdominal pain. While a careful review of a patient's medical history, a thorough physical examination, and appropriate studies usually help provide an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan for acute (short-term or sudden onset) pain, the same cannot be said for chronic (prolonged or long-term) pain. In fact, some therapies appropriate for acute pain, such as analgesics (pain medications), rest, and surgery, may only worsen chronic pain.
The first step in managing chronic abdominal pain is determining the nature, causes, and development of any abnormal condition, and the mechanism of pain. For optimal management, pain must be assessed from biological, social, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral perspectives.
Here are the common factors that influence abdominal pain …
Anxiety and depression
Anxious feelings are common and often occur in every one of us, but they may cause emotional and physical distress. Physical symptoms of anxiety include increased muscle tension, which can worsen symptoms of irritable bowel disease.
Pain is minimized by distraction and increased by attention. When we spend time involved in activities, attention is drawn away from pain symptoms. But a lack of activity increases self-awareness and tends to focus attention on pain. Also, inactivity not only leads to general de-conditioning, but also to weakening of the abdominal muscles, which contributes to poor posture and increases pressure on the joints.
Cognitive and emotional factors
How a person understands and interprets pain can influence suffering.
Chemical dependence, including narcotics, tranquilizer addictions, and alcoholism, are important contributors to chronic pain. Not only does chemical dependence increase pain symptoms, but it also can produce cravings, muscle spasms, and other symptoms that are experienced as pain.
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