What is chronic pain, and how does it differ from acute pain? Let’s first consider acute pain. Acute pain is caused by an injury or specific disease. It serves a protective function, letting the injured person know that there has been damage to some part of the body. The pain causes the person to seek treatment, or rest until the body is healed.
Chronic pain, in contrast, outlasts the normal time of healing for that specific injury or disease. In my research, I've noted that pain is considered chronic when it lasts between 3-6 mos, or 1 month after the injury or disease should have been healed. Treating chronic pain differs from treating acute pain, in that chronic pain must rely on a multidisciplinary approach.
In addition, chronic pain can cause secondary complications. For example, chronic pain can lead to difficulty sleeping because of the pain, and being tired leads to feeling irritable. Some people stop working, and might encounter financial difficulties. The stress of this can keep them up at night, adding to the original sleeping problem. Chronic pain can make it difficult to attend family outings, children’s activities, and social events. As a result, many people struggle with guilt. People report that there is usually some combination of fear, irritability, anxiety, and depression associated with chronic pain. Chronic pain causes stressful problems, and that stress makes the pain worse.
Reflexology’s primary role in treating chronic pain is to address the secondary complications leading to stress. Reflexology is a “stress buster”. It allows the person to relax, and break the cycle of pain and stress that feed into each other. Encouraging relaxation can help the body heal or better manage chronic pain. Reflexology can give those who suffer from chronic pain conditions a new outlet to approaching their condition.