Chronic pain is pain that lasts for over three months. The pain can be there all the time, or it may come and go. It can happen anywhere in your body.
Chronic pain can interfere with your daily activities, such as working, having a social life, and taking care of yourself or others. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping, which can make your pain worse. This response creates a cycle that’s difficult to break.
Chronic pain can come in many different forms and appear across your body. Common types of chronic pain include:
- Arthritis, or joint pain.
- Back pain.
- Neck pain.
- Cancer pain near a tumor.
- Headaches, including migraines.
- Testicular pain (orchialgia).
- Lasting pain in scar tissue.
- Muscle pain all over (such as with fibromyalgia).
- Neurogenic pain is from damage to the nerves or other parts of the nervous system.
causes chronic pain
Sometimes chronic pain has an obvious cause. You may have a long-lasting illness such as arthritis or cancer that can cause ongoing pain.
Injuries and diseases can also cause changes to your body that leave you more sensitive to pain. These changes can stay in place even after you’ve healed from the original injury or disease. Something like a sprain, a broken bone, or a brief infection can leave you with chronic pain.
Some people also have chronic pain that’s not tied to an injury or physical illness. Healthcare providers call this response psychogenic pain or psychosomatic pain. It’s caused by psychological factors such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Many scientists believe this connection comes from low levels of endorphins in the blood. Endorphins are natural chemicals that trigger positive feelings.
It’s possible to have several causes of pain overlap. You could have two different diseases, for example. Or you could have something like migraines and psychogenic pain together.
Chronic pain feel like
People with chronic pain describe their pain in many different ways, such as:
Chronic pain often leads to other symptoms and conditions, including:
- Fatigue, or feeling overly tired most of the time.
- Insomnia, or trouble falling asleep.
- Mood swings.
chronic pain treatment
To relieve chronic pain, healthcare providers first try to identify and treat the cause. But sometimes they can’t find the source. If so, they turn to treating, or managing, the pain.
Healthcare providers treat chronic pain in many different ways. The approach depends on many factors, including:
- The type of pain you have.
- The cause of your pain, if known.
- Your age and overall health.
The best treatment plans use a variety of strategies, including medications, lifestyle changes, and therapies.
If you have chronic pain and depression and/or anxiety, it’s important to seek treatment for your mental health condition(s) as well. Having depression or anxiety can make your chronic pain worse. For example, if you have depression, the fatigue, sleep changes, and decreased activity it may cause can make your chronic pain worse.