Updated: Jul 11
It's no secret that chronic pain plagues millions of Americans and is hard to treat. But what is causing this pain? If you have chronic pain, you know it doesn't just affect your physical experience of life — it affects the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of your world as well.
Over time, chronic pain can change who you are unless you find ways to stop it. Fortunately, treatment is available, and our New York pain management specialists will be able to recommend a treatment plan that works best for you.
There are many reasons a person might be living with chronic pain, and what needs to be done about it depend on the cause. So, let's find out what causes chronic pain.
Many people with chronic pain lead sedentary or unhealthy lifestyles, which can make them more likely to develop pain. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and being overweight are all risk factors for developing chronic pain.
A poor diet and lack of exercise can lead to muscle tension or joint pain that lingers long after the initial cause has passed. In addition, smoking cigarettes increases your risk of developing several types of cancer — including lung cancer — as well as rheumatoid arthritis and gum disease. Smoking also reduces blood flow to the heart and brain and damages the lungs' ability to function normally.
Injuries or Trauma
An injury that affects the spine, such as a whiplash injury, is especially likely to lead to chronic pain. In some cases, an injury may be so severe that it leads to permanent damage to the nerves and muscles in the affected area. This type of damage can make it difficult for you to move normally and perform simple tasks like lifting your arm or walking up stairs.
Joints that have been injured or traumatized can be prone to developing arthritis if left untreated or improperly treated over time. If you've had knee surgery or an ankle sprain that wasn't properly treated, for example, it may take longer for your joints to heal than normal — which could lead to chronic pain down the road if you don't take proper care of yourself afterward.
An injury from overuse or an accident can lead to chronic pain if it damages the nerves or joints in your body. Injuries like these can cause swelling and inflammation long after the initial injury has healed. They also may make you more likely to re-injure yourself because they affect your ability to move normally and safely.
People who slouch or sit in poor posture may experience back pain if they don't correct it before it becomes a habit. Poor posture also increases the risk of neck and shoulder problems as well as headaches caused by muscle tension in these areas.
Chronic pain is often a result of inactivity that limits your ability to perform daily tasks and exercise. Without regular exercise, your muscles will become weaker and less flexible, which can lead to injuries and other problems.
Inactivity is a major trigger for chronic pain. When your body isn't moving, it's not getting all the benefits of exercise. You may feel stiff or sore after working out or on an active day, but these feelings should fade quickly with rest and recovery time. If you have ongoing pain in your joints or muscles, it's likely due to a lack of activity. Inactivity is not just about being physically inactive. It can also include mental and emotional inactivity, such as feeling bored or depressed.
The problem with inactivity is that it sets off a chain reaction that can lead to chronic pain and other health problems. In fact, many people who experience chronic pain have been inactive for long periods of time before the pain started.
Mental Health Issues
Mental health problems can also cause chronic pain. Anxiety disorders and depression are associated with increased feelings of pain and disability in people with musculoskeletal conditions. Anxiety disorders can also lead to muscle tension in the body, which contributes to chronic pain symptoms. Depression may increase sensitivity to pain by affecting how people respond to stressful situations.
If you wake up stiff and sore every morning, this could be a sign that you aren't getting enough sleep at night. Sleep deprivation affects how well our bodies heal after an injury or illness because it affects how much energy we have during the day for healing processes like inflammation control and tissue repair.
The way you sleep has a direct impact on the quality of your life. For example, if you have chronic back pain and poor sleeping habits — like lying flat on your back — this could be causing your pain. If it's hard for you to get comfortable when you're asleep, try changing positions throughout the night so that each part of your body gets some rest time.
Nervous System Disorders
One of the most common causes of chronic pain is a nervous system disorder. Nervous system disorders are conditions that affect the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which controls all body movements and processes information received from the senses.
The nervous system is the body's communication system. It sends messages from the brain and spinal cord throughout the body to make sure everything is working correctly. The nervous system also receives messages from our senses, such as sight and touch, and sends them back to the brain for interpretation.
The nervous system includes:
• The brain and central nervous system (brain and spinal cord)
• The peripheral nervous system (the 12 cranial nerves, 31 pairs of spinal nerves, sensory ganglia, and sympathetic trunks)
• The autonomic nervous system (an automatic part of the peripheral nervous system that controls unconscious functions)
Diseases or Other Health Conditions
Diseases and other health conditions can lead to chronic pain in many ways. Arthritis is a joint disease that causes inflammation and swelling. It can lead to permanent damage to the joints that can cause stiffness and pain. People with diabetes may develop nerve damage in their feet or legs, causing them to lose feeling in those areas.
If someone has cancer, chemotherapy treatments can produce side effects like nausea, vomiting, and dizziness that can make it difficult for the patient to move around easily. One of the most common causes of chronic pain is back injuries from lifting heavy objects incorrectly or falling on your back while lifting something heavy.
There are many triggers for chronic pain, and some of them are more obvious than others. It would be impossible to cover all possible triggers for chronic pain. However, we hope this article provided some useful information on what causes chronic pain and what you can do if it affects your life.
When you experience pain, try to identify any potential triggers by keeping a journal. And make sure to talk to a New York pain management specialist trained in the field of treating chronic pain and able to provide treatment options.
Remember, understanding what causes pain is the first step toward fixing it. Once you have identified those triggers, you can create a unique plan to acknowledge those triggers and counteract them in a fashion that best suits your needs.