Chronic pain is pain that persists over time, lasting longer than six months. It occurs when pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, or even years. Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating. Common chronic pain complaints include headache, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, neurogenic pain, or psychogenic pain, etc. Generalized muscle or nerve pain can also develop into a chronic condition. Chronic pain may originate with an initial trauma/injury or infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain.
In some people, who have long-lasting chronic pain, biochemical changes are triggered in the body, causing a different type of chronic pain (neuropathic pain) that doctors currently find difficult to diagnose and treat. Pain signals are somehow triggered by the nervous system and continue to fire for months or even years. (It is also possible that certain brain chemicals that suppress pain do not work properly.) Regardless of the cause, chronic pain syndrome affects all aspects of your life, straining relationships and making it difficult to keep up with work and home responsibilities.
The emotional toll of chronic pain can also make pain worse. Anxiety, stress, depression, anger, and fatigue interact in complex ways with chronic pain and may decrease the body’s production of natural painkillers; moreover, such negative feelings may increase the level of substances that amplify sensations of pain, causing a vicious cycle of pain for the person. Even the body’s most basic defenses may be compromised: There is considerable evidence that unrelenting pain can suppress the immune system. Because of the mind-body links associated with chronic pain, effective treatment requires addressing psychological as well as physical aspects of the condition.
The symptoms of chronic pain include:
- Mild to severe pain that does not go away;
- Pain that may be described as shooting, burning, aching, or electrical; and
- The feeling of discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness.
Pain is not a symptom that exists alone. Other problems associated with pain can include:
- Withdrawal from activity and increased need to rest;
- Weakened immune system;
- Changes in mood including hopelessness, fear, depression, irritability, anxiety, and stress; and
What is Chronic Pain and what are the Symptoms. WebMD (May 23, 2018), https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/understanding-pain-management-chronic-pain#1