Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than six months. With over 100 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, there is a good chance you or someone you know is dealing with this potentially debilitating condition. Even with today’s groundbreaking medical procedures, this epidemic seems to be on the rise as we are living longer and putting more stress on our bodies than we can handle.

In the physical therapy world, we rarely see patients unless they are having pain that is keeping them from doing the activities they want to do. Between navigating the murky waters of insurance and waiting to get an appointment with your medical provider, oftentimes patients end up waiting so long before they are seen that they find themselves on the cusp of being in chronic pain.

What makes chronic pain so difficult to deal with is how it affects every aspect of your life. As long as that piercing, stabbing, gnawing pain is present, you are unable to get any satisfaction out of the usual activities you once did without a thought. Not only is your active life going to change, but your social life will take a hit as well. Being that person that constantly complains about the back, knee, etc. over and over again is not someone people tend to gravitate towards.

I was in what could be considered “beyond” chronic pain. After my fourth knee surgery wasn’t successful and lead to a subsequent fifth AND sixth surgery, I spent the better part of 6 years in pain everyday. Sure some days were better than others but there was something everyday that reminded me I wasn’t going to make it to the next day without feeling that dull, achy, occasional sharp pain in my knee.

Even though I discontinued every athletic activity I used to participate in on a daily basis, just the movements of everyday life would irritate my knee. I spent every day trying to rehabilitate my knee - in the pool, on the bike, modified exercises, massage, acupuncture, and meditation. I became withdrawn from people around me, and began to feel isolated. I had a “me against the world” attitude. There were no more answers, no matter how many opinions I got from well-respected medical doctors I saw.

Fortunately the doctor who performed the sixth surgery on my knee told me it would be a difficult recovery, and it would take up to a year and a half before I saw the benefit. His main point, which he has stressed many times since, is that no matter what I can’t quit. I can’t take an extended period time off from rehabilitating my knee; it would last a lifetime if I wanted to see the maximum benefit from the surgery.

Those words ring true today and each day I do what I need to do, even if I don’t feel like it. Sure there are days when my knee doesn’t feel great, but I am out of that dark place I was for so long. I have some pain here and there but I am able to do more than I’ve ever imagined after being out of the game for so long. No matter what is causing you pain, there is something you can do about it. I can feel your pain, as I’ve been there myself. It may not get better in a few days, maybe not even in a few weeks, but it will get better - just don’t quit.

Yours in health,

Keith Pacific