What Is Chronic Pain?
Pain, though unpleasant,
is your body’s warning system. The tingling, tightness, or stiffness indicates
that overworked or damaged muscles and nerves need attention. Prolonged pain—lasting
three months or longer—is considered chronic. Chronic pain strikes any place in the
body, most commonly in the lower back, and ranges from mild to severe. It can
be sharp, shooting, burning, aching, or marked by stiffness. While pain
following injury or disease is normal, persistent pain can affect your personal and
Chronic pain can take a
toll on you emotionally as well as physically. The emotional stress can further
aggravate symptoms, and possibly weaken your immune system, which could lead to
infection, fatigue, or depression.
Chronic Pain Triggers
Approximately one in three
people in the United States will experience chronic pain, which can last for
weeks, months, or years. Root causes that contribute to chronic pain include:
- Chemical: If the
brain chemicals that usually suppress pain fail to work, this could lead to
- Neurogenic: This
kind of pain results from damage to the central nervous system, in which damaged
nerves are the source of pain.
- Psychogenic: An emotional
or mental issue—rather than disease, injury, or damage to the nervous system—could
trigger the perception of intractable pain.
- Psychological: Pain
could be the result of personality traits or psychiatric illness that manifests
as physical pain
- Unidentifiable: When
tests cannot find any instance of injury or illness that could have triggered
the chronic pain, doctors might not be able to identify a cause.
Chronic Pain Risk Factors
the risk factors of chronic pain can help you manage or prevent symptoms.
- Age: Chronic
pain is not a normal part of aging, but conditions like arthritis
and diabetes (which tend to appear with age) may contribute to chronic pain by
causing joint and nerve destruction, respectively.
- Health Conditions: Fibromyalgia,
depression or anxiety disorders, joint injuries, limb amputation, and surgery
are examples of chronic pain triggers.
- Immune System: A weakened
immune system can lead to infections or illness.
- Smoking: Smoking
can aggravate pain and reduce responsiveness to treatment.
- Diet and Lifestyle: Indulging
in junk foods, living a sedentary lifestyle, alcohol dependence, and other poor
health habits can lead to chronic pain.
- Emotional Stress: Relationship problems or physical,
sexual, or emotional abuse, can contribute to chronic pain.