I have finally managed to stop procrastinating and sit down and write an update on life in my little world. We had a lovely Summer and I am now regretting over-indulging in all that nice food and ice creams over the past few months. Complacency set in and combined with no routine I was sure my weighing scales was broken when I finally stood on it! All is well and I am back walking and starting my Pilates classes so hopefully in few weeks the scales will be kind to me.
Did you know that September is International Pain Awareness month? I was not aware of that until I started reading a little bit more about the subject of chronic pain. It is rather telling because chronic pain is an insidious and often kept hidden condition where so many people suffer in silence with a reduction in their quality of life. I have written about my own experience with chronic pain over the past couple of years on this blog so naturally have an interest in the subject. Whilst I can’t say that my life is debilitating and am probably on the lower end of the scale when it comes to living with chronic pain and certainly to look at me, one may think I am in robust good health. I am…mostly.
There are days however when all my attempts to manage the pain just don’t work for me. I finally succumbed, having exhausted other methods of managing my pain, and visited a pain management medical consultant. I had minor procedure that involved nerve block and trigger point injections last week. It is early days yet as it can take up to two weeks to have a response so I won’t comment for now except that surprisingly, it took me a few days to recover. I had assumed benignly that I would continue with my daily activities but was glad I had the weekend to recover. The Consultant plans to repeat the procedure in six to eight weeks so I will keep you posted on how I get on.
Another reason that prompted me to write, is that for the first time chronic pain has been included in the International Classification of Diseases- 11 (ICD-11). Consequences of surviving cancer for individuals with long term side effects are often left unreported as many feel a sense of survivors guilt when so many have died from the disease. Thankfully as there are more and more long-term survivors due to advances in treatments, researchers have recognised that chronic pain can affect many following treatment.
What this terminology means is that various diseases are classified in various categories where it can be used for analysing health trends, plus sharing and monitoring data with hospitals, regions and countries. If you wish to read more about it, I have added a link WHO- ICD-11.
There are many other features to this classification but cancer-related chronic pain is applicable to us. The definition is as follows:
Chronic cancer-related pain
Chronic cancer-related pain is defined as pain caused by the cancer itself (by the primary tumor or by metastases) or by its treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy). Pain is a frequent and debilitating accompaniment of cancer and its treatment.It becomes more and more apparent that chronic pain syndromes are prevalent in long-term survivors of cancer, and that these chronic secondary pain syndromes include neuropathic and musculoskeletal pains. Chronic pain caused by the cancer or by chemotherapy or radiation therapy is coded in this section. Pain that is caused by surgical cancer treatment is coded in the section of chronic postsurgical pain.
Treede, Rolf-Detlefa,Rief, Winfriedb; Barke, Antoniab; Aziz, Qasim et al Chronic pain as a symptom or a disease the IASP Classification of Chronic Pain for the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) PAIN: January 2019 – Volume 160 – Issue 1 – p 19–27
What does this mean for people who have cancer-related chronic pain?
Having it included in ICD-11 provides validation for all those suffering for years with the condition. Introduction of codes and classification of diseases helps to promote more evidence-based research on the condition. With this evidence resources can be successfully channelled to where they are needed. An example would be it could help improve access to the appropriate care in a timely fashion. It may also help focus health policy decisions in the future. Trends can be identified within countries and worldwide that may influence researchers and health policy developers. A study in 2012 (PRIME) which looked at the cost of non-cancer related chronic pain in Ireland amounted to Euro 5665 per patient per year! I can’t find any statistics for patients with cancer related pain but assume the costs to be similar. I imagine these costs are in addition to the financial burden an initial diagnosis of cancer can cause.
Experiencing chronic pain is elusive. Some days can be better than others. If you are unsure whether you fall into this category or not , this definition may help:
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts or recurs for more than three months.
If you are experiencing chronic pain I urge you to seek professional advice from your family doctor to help you manage your symptoms. There are various interventions available, such as physiotherapy or complimentary therapies, that may benefit you and help improve your quality of life. Your doctor may also refer you to a pain management consultant if deemed appropriate.
There is no need to be in pain.
Until next time…
I have written about my various experiences below: