Updated: Jun 6
If there is one thing that is for sure about chronic pain, it can really hurt. When you have chronic pain, you are experiencing the body's reaction to intense or persistent body signals that something might be physically wrong. Pain can be described as a paired sensation of sensory and psychological feelings that are usually synonymous with unpleasantness.
Depending on the condition or illness a person has, pain can range from mild soreness to severe agony. It may be continuous, sharp, shooting pain; a dull, throbbing pain; or any other form of discomfort that makes each day an exercise in agony. This can leave you feeling helpless and scared, not knowing what to do next.
Chronic pain is the most common reason people visit our pain management NYC clinic. Thankfully there are answers out there for you. However, it is important to know your options, which will be discussed in this blog post.
This article will not only focus on the general definition of chronic pain but also discuss the different types of chronic pain, how you know if you're experiencing chronic pain, and what steps you can take to alleviate the symptoms of this condition.
Chronic pain is a long-term condition that includes recurring pain that continues over a longer period of time. It can be caused by a number of different things, including an injury, illness, or underlying medical condition, but sometimes it has no cause at all. The pain may be mild to severe and can vary from person to person.
Chronic pain becomes more than just a physical problem. If you have chronic pain, you know it can be hard to live a normal life. The type of chronic pain you have will affect how it affects your life. The good news is that there are many treatments for chronic pain that can help you manage your condition so you can get back to living the life you want.
There are many types of chronic pain, but they all have some things in common:
• They usually don't get better with self-care.
• Chronic pain can be hard to live with because it can interfere with many aspects of life, including work, family, and social activities.
• They can cause more problems than just physical discomfort — emotional issues like anxiety and depression often develop too.
• They often have no cure and no known cause.
• They can affect your mental health and well-being.
• They can also impact your ability to work and your relationships with family and friends.
Chronic pain can affect the whole body or just one part of the body. The pain might be in your back, knees, or neck. It might be constant or come and go. You may also have accompanying symptoms like fatigue and depression. There are several different types of chronic pain, each with its unique characteristics and symptoms.
✓ Back Pain
The spine is made up of bones called vertebrae that protect the spinal cord and allow you to move your body freely. When one or more vertebrae become misaligned or damaged due to injury or disease, it can cause back pain or stiffness in your lower back area (lumbar region).
Back pain is usually localized to the back and lower half of the body. Pain in other areas may also be linked with back pain but is not always due to the same cause. For example, sciatica can cause leg pain and numbness due to irritation of the sciatic nerve.
Back pain is one of the most common causes of chronic pain in adults. In fact, about 80% of adults experience back pain at some point during their lifetime and more than half will have at least one episode of back pain over a three-month period.
The most common cause of back pain is degenerative disc disease (DDD) — when the discs in your spine start to break down with age and become stiffer and harder than normal (which leads to compression on nerves). This compression can cause irritation or even numbness in your legs (sciatica), which can radiate down toward your foot or toes.
Back pain can range from mild to severe and may involve some or all of the following symptoms:
• Stiffness in your lower back that gets worse when you move around and improves when you rest
• Tenderness in your lower back that gets worse when you bend forward or lift heavy objects
• Pain that spreads into your buttocks, hips, and thighs (sciatica), pain that feels like it's coming from deep inside your pelvis
Headaches are pains felt anywhere in the head area — including behind your eyes, at the base of your skull, or on both sides of your head at once (called bilateral headaches). Migraines are one type of headache.
Headaches can have many causes, including stress, eyestrain, and muscle tension. Migraines are a type of severe headache that affects one in 10 people worldwide and usually starts in childhood or adolescence.
Headaches can range from mild to severe and can last for hours or days. They can be caused by fatigue, hunger or dehydration, and lack of sleep and may be associated with other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety disorders.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain, tenderness, and fatigue throughout the body but with no discernible source of injury or tender points on the body at locations such as elbows, knees, and shoulders.
This condition can make it difficult for you to complete your daily tasks for many reasons. For example, you may suffer from severe fatigue that makes simple tasks like showering or getting dressed more challenging than they should be. It may also be difficult for you to get through the day without experiencing some degree of pain; this can make performing even basic tasks like walking or sitting at the computer difficult. The other symptoms often experienced with fibromyalgia can also cause problems throughout your day, as well as during sleep at night.
The symptoms usually develop gradually over a period of time—sometimes as short as a few weeks, sometimes as long as years—and will continue to worsen if left untreated. Often, there are periods where the symptoms seem to ease up or even disappear completely, only to flare back up again later on in a more intense form than before. There's currently no cure for the condition, although there are treatment options available to help manage its symptoms.
Fibromyalgia is said to be caused due to changes in the way the brain processes pain signals coming from the body. It's not entirely understood why these changes occur in some people, but scientists have identified certain genes that may make people more susceptible to developing this condition.
Other researchers say there may be a link between stress and fibromyalgia—people who have experienced traumatic events such as war or abuse are at an increased risk for developing fibromyalgia later on in life, possibly because their brains have been trained to handle stressful situations with pain as a response.
The main symptoms of fibromyalgia are:
• Fatigue and tiredness
• Ache and stiffness all over your body
• Difficulty sleeping
• Headaches and sensitivity to light or noise
• Trouble thinking clearly
• Poor short-term memory
Arthritis is one of the most common causes of chronic pain. It can affect people of any age and both sexes equally. It's estimated that 10 million Americans are affected by arthritis annually. There are many different types of arthritis, and they may affect either one or several joints at the same time. The most common forms of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
• Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear on the joints, which leads to cartilage breakdown and bone rubbing against bone. It most often affects older adults but can occur at any age.
• Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation throughout the body, including in joints. It usually affects women more than men, although anyone can get it.
If you have arthritis, you may experience inflammation in your joints which causes pain and stiffness. This can make it difficult to move and perform everyday tasks such as climbing stairs or standing for long periods of time.
Many people with arthritis also experience swelling, redness, and warmth in their joints. If you have these symptoms and think you might have arthritis, it's important to see a pain specialist for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan.
Treatments for Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people around the world. Chronic pain can be difficult to treat and manage, but it is not impossible. If you experience chronic pain, the best solution is to consult a medical professional to get to the root of the problem and pinpoint the best treatment plan for your condition.
Treatment for chronic pain should be tailored to your individual needs and may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and other forms of treatment.
• Physical therapy — Therapists use various techniques to help with movement, flexibility, and strength issues associated with chronic pain. They also teach you how to use these strategies at home on a regular basis.
• Occupational therapy — Therapists use various techniques to help you perform daily activities more easily. Occupational therapists also provide training in specific skills, such as using assistive devices or computers, if you have difficulty performing these tasks because of physical limitations caused by your condition.
• Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — This type of therapy helps patients identify ways to reduce their stress levels and change negative patterns of thinking or behavior that may contribute to their condition or make it worse.
Our Pain Specialists Can Help
We hope this post has helped you better understand chronic pain and how it affects your daily life. Living with chronic pain is no easy feat, and people often don't realize how much of an impact pain can have on their everyday life. Therefore, we encourage you to look into the treatment options available at our pain management NYC clinic, so you can get your life back on track and hopefully end the cycle of chronic pain.