How COPD and Chronic Pain Might be Linked

A recent study produced results which suggest Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and chronic pain are related. The study was conducted between the years of 2006 and 2010, and two groups of people were closely monitored – people with COPD, and those with no chronic diseases.

Those with COPD were found to have the same sort of pain as patients with rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. They were also found to be using opioid pain killers more than any other type of pain medication to relieve it. They also concluded that the pain didn't seem to be a result of a lack of oxygen flow throughout the body.

A researcher from the study, which was conducted in Albuquerque, New Mexico, stated that the study is preliminary and no concrete conclusions should be drawn. Not all people with COPD will have chronic pain, but it was estimated that nearly half (45%) do. The patients with chronic pain also were not diagnosed with any sort of arthritis, or chronic condition that causes pain.

What should I do to treat my chronic pain if I have COPD?

Chronic pain is nothing like an ache that occurs after an injury, which you can expect to fade after a while. It sticks around, day in and day out, and even a dull chronic pain can make it diffecult to function. Chronic pain can severely affect your quality of life. For this reason, treating chronic pain with an opioid drugs such as methodone, oxycodone and Vicodin, should be avoided because of their notoriously addictive qualities.

Taking these types of pain medications is fine when you are recovering from an injury or surgery, and they are usually prescribed to relieve pain that will go away throughout the healing process. Continuing to take these pain medications can easily result in a physical dependency to the drug. After a while, your body requires more of the drug to kill the pain, which is how you will end up dependent on it.

Talk to your doctor to find out what your options are, and most likely, your doctor will steer you away from the opioid drugs because of the danger of dependency. Your doctor might suggest some stretching and gentle exercises you could do to help relieve the paid over time.

You can also fill a bath tub with water as hot as you can stand, and add some Epsom salt. Soak your whole body in the Epsom salt bath to relieve your aches. Remain in the tub until the water is cool to make sure the bath has done its job, at least for a while.

Apply an ice pack or a heating pad to relieve pain in specific areas, or gently massage the area that is paining you. One of the best things to do is use a warmed skin-safe oil and massage it deeply into your skin and muscles.

For severe pain, your doctor will likely recommend physical therapy, if you've tried other methods of pain management without much of a result.

Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about COPD, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.

About Scott Ridl: Scott joined American Medical Sales and Rentals in 2008 as a Web Manager and Content Writer. He is a writer and designer. He is extensively trained on oxygen therapy products from leading manufacturers such as Inogen, Respironics, Chart, Invacare, ResMed and more. Scott works closely with respiratory therapists and oxygen specialists to educate the community about oxygen therapy products, COPD, asthma and lung diseases. He writes weekly columns and is passionate about educating the community on oxygen therapy and respiratory issues.

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