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Chronic Pain


Chronic pain is a persistent pain lasting a period of days, weeks or months and is often resistant to treatment. Chronic pain can be a sign of disease present in the body. The cause of the pain may be from an event such as a sprain or from a serious infection. Environmental and psychological factors can worsen the effects of chronic pain.
Chronic Pain

In This Article
Did You Know? Causes of chronic pain
Symptoms of chronic pain Diagnosis of chronic pain
Related terms

  • One in five people in the UK experience pain on a daily basis
  • Most common chronic pain problems are: back pain, arthritis, headaches and injury
  • Chronic back pain costs the country £5 billion per year
  • Chronic pain from Rheumatoid Arthritis causes 9.4 million working days to be lost per year
  • According to The British Pain Society, complementary therapy is beneficial for pain management


Acute pain is an alert from the body's nervous system that something is wrong (injury or disease) and if left untreated may lead to further complications. Chronic pain usually begins after an acute injury or disease and is a persistent sensation whereby pain signals in the nervous system continue firing for a period of weeks, months or years. The pain often lingers far beyond the normal course of natural healing.

There are many causes of chronic pain and the problem may have been triggered by an initial event such as a sprained back in a sports game or a viral infection. Common injuries leading to chronic pain include: back, joint, neck and spinal injuries. Other causes of chronic pain may occur as a result of an ongoing condition such as arthritis, cancer, sciatica or shingles. Chronic pain typically affects older adults as the body's function deteriorates and its healing process slows down.

Common cause of chronic pain include:
  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Cancer
  • Ear infections
  • Fibromyalgia (a condition affecting the muscles and joints)
  • Headaches (migraines)
Research into chronic pain has discovered that some people are more affected due to lower levels of the body's natural pain killing chemicals called endorphins. The brain produces endorphins which are then released into the body as a response to pain. Stress may also play an important factor in the longevity of chronic pain.

Chronic pain and depression have a strong association due to mood and pain being located in the same areas of the brain. Both conditions affect the levels of endorphins in the body and other chemicals which regulate mood. Over 75% of people with clinical depression will also have physical complaints while 30% of people suffering chronic pain will suffer clinical depression.


There are many symptoms associated with chronic pain and these will vary depending on what area of the body is affected. Common symptoms associated with chronic pain include:
  • Pain that persists after illness or injury has healed
  • Discomfort
  • Sore, stiff or tight muscles and joints
  • Fatigue
  • Sleeping difficulty (pain can awaken people during the night or prevent them falling to sleep)
  • Frequent illness or infection (due to a weakened immune system)
  • Depression
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Mood changes
  • Disability


Chronic pain is a signal that something is wrong and as such the underlying cause must be diagnosed rather than the pain itself. For effective treatment, chronic pain should be assessed and investigated by your GP as early as possible.

The GP will take a medical history and ask questions to find out how the pain may have developed. They may perform a physical examination to discover the location of the pain, its intensity and any factors that may relieve it (e.g. manipulations). Psychological factors such as a history of depression will also be taken into consideration.

If necessary, the GP will send you for blood tests or other diagnostic testing methods to determine the cause of your chronic pain. You may be referred to a specialist depending on the outcome of the tests.


Acute
Acute Pain
Acetaminophen
Acetylcholine
Allodynia
Analgesia
Anesthesia
Ankylosing
Ankylosing Spondylitis
Arthritis
Back Pain
Causalgia
Polymysitis
Fibromylagia
Headache
Ibuprofen
Lower Back Pain
Lumbago
Lumbar Pain
Lupus
Methadone
Migraine
Morphine
Myofascial Pain Syndrome MPS
Neuralgia
Neuropathic Pain
Neurotransmitter
Pain
Pain Management
Trauma
Trigeminal Neuralgia
Trigger


Therapies to consider
Acupressure Acupuncture Alexander Technique
Allergy Intolerance Testing Bowen Therapy Chinese Herbal Medicine
Craniosacral Therapy Deep Tissue Massage Detoxification
EFT EMDR Energy Healing
Hawaiian Massage Herbal Medicine Holistic Massage
Homeopathy Kinesiology Massage
Naturopathy Osteopathy Personal Training
Physiotherapy Pilates Podiatry (Chiropody)
Reflexology Reiki Remedial Massage
Shiatsu Sports Massage Yoga


 

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