6 Tests Every Chronic Pain Sufferer Should Discuss with a Doctor
Are you suffering from persistent pain that has lasted longer than three months?
If so – you’re suffering from chronic pain, which can last for weeks, months and even years. You may be surprised to know that an estimated 100 million Americans are suffering from chronic pain along with you.
So what can you do about it? The first step is to meet with your doctor or health care provider to help determine potential causes. In addition to discussing your medical history for clues, he or she may suggest any number of tests to either rule out or confirm other factors.
If you’re suffering from chronic pain, here are six tests you should consider discussing with your doctor:
Vitamin D Deficiency Test
Various studies have shown a potential connection between pain and vitamin D deficiency. According to data from a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, nearly 42% of Americans aren’t getting enough vitamin D.
In a 2012 study of 100 women suffering from chronic pain related to their fibromyalgia, researchers discovered that 61% of them also suffered from vitamin D deficiency. After vitamin D supplementation, researchers concluded that vitamin D deficiency needed to be considered in the management of pain for fibromyalgia.
In a more recent study out of the Orthopaedic Hospital Speising in Vienna, Austria – researchers also found that vitamin D supplementation steadily decreased the pain in patients suffering from fibromyalgia pain. When the study concluded and patients discontinued vitamin D supplementation, their symptoms began worsening again.
According to WebMD, the most accurate way to measure how much vitamin D is in your body is the 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood test. A level of 20 nanograms/milliliter to 50 ng/mL is considered adequate for healthy people. A level less than 12 ng/mL indicates vitamin D deficiency.
Magnesium Deficiency Test
Another deficiency to consider being tested for is a magnesium deficiency. As many as 60-80% of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include pain, low energy levels, muscle weakness, sleep problems, anxiety, hypertension and more.
To test your magnesium levels, your doctor may order a serum magnesium test – which involves drawing your blood for testing. Other magnesium tests include the RBC Magnesium Test, Ionized Magnesium Test, EXA test, and Tolerance Test.
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Test
Vitamin B12 plays an important role in the synthesizing of the neurotransmitters in your brain that regulate mood, sleep, energy and more. Unfortunately, B12 has a difficult time getting into the bloodstream – which can lead to a deficiency.
If you’re feeling fatigued, weak, depressed, or anxious – there’s a chance you’re not getting enough B12. B12 also plays an important role in healthy nerve functioning. Long term deficiency can lead to neuropathy – or nerve damage – which can cause pain, tingling or numbness.
To test for a B12 deficiency, your doctor will likely order a blood draw. If initial tests show low levels of B12, he or she may request additional tests.
Folic Acid Deficiency Test
People who aren’t getting enough vitamin B12 often don’t get enough folic acid either. Signs that you might not be getting enough folic acid include fatigue, weakness, lightheadedness, mouth sores, forgetfulness, irritability, difficult concentrating, and more. Like B12, your doctor will order a blood draw.
Another thing you may want to have tested is your thyroid function. The thyroid is a small gland in your neck that makes hormones that help regulate energy, mood, metabolism and more. The two types of hormones it creates are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
If it doesn’t produce enough of these hormones, you may experience depression, weight gain, lack of energy, and more. This is known as hypothyroidism.
If it produces too much of these hormones, it can lead to high anxiety, tremors, difficulty sleeping, weakness, fatigue, irritability, restlessness, and more.
Your doctor will likely order a broader test to detect if there are problems with your thyroid hormone levels. If the test detects problems with your hormone levels, further tests will be done to determine the cause and correct treatment.
CRP (C-Reactive Protein) Test
Your blood contains a protein known as C-reactive protein. The liver produces this protein in response to inflammation – so high levels of CRP in your blood stream may indicate chronic inflammation. Your doctor may order a CRP test to measure the levels of CRP in your bloodstream to see what role inflammation is playing in your pain.
If the CRP test confirms high levels of CRP in the blood, your doctor may order further tests to help determine the cause of the inflammation.
As we mentioned in the beginning, talk to your doctor first so he or she can begin to understand what things may be a factor in your chronic pain. You may mention any of the tests above if you feel strongly that you may need one or more of them. Your doctor may also suggest other tests not listed above if he or she determines they are necessary based on your symptoms, medical history, or other factors.