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Managing Pain From Sickle Cell Disease
source: CVS Specialty, Inc.
When you have sickle cell disease (SCD), living with pain can be an ongoing challenge. Pain is common in people with SCD. It’s also the main reason for going to the emergency room or hospital. Pain can be agonizing and keep you from doing the things you want or need to do.
Living with pain can also be hard because it’s not something you can see. Your pain is often misunderstood by others. Knowing as much as you can about your pain and SCD can help you remember that the pain is not “just in your head,” but that it’s real.
Causes for Pain
With SCD, your red blood cells are sickle shaped. These sickle cells are hard and sticky and can get stuck in small blood vessels. This blocks oxygen and blood flow to the nearby part of the body. Without oxygen, cells get damaged or die. Pain is your body’s response to this lack of oxygen.
Pain can come on suddenly. This is called a “pain episode,” and can be a sharp, intense, stabbing or throbbing pain. It may last a few hours to days, or even weeks. You can have pain in any part of your body, but it often happens in the abdomen (stomach), chest, lower back, arms or legs.
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