Updated: Jun 7
Chronic pain is a condition that affects millions of people in the United States. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most misunderstood and stigmatized medical issues, with many people believing it can be "cured" by simply "stopping feeling" the pain. The reality is that chronic pain is a real problem that can result from an injury or illness or develop gradually over time.
Chronic pain is debilitating and extremely painful and negatively impacts a person's life on many levels. With so many now suffering from chronic pain, our pain management NYC center research has become increasingly targeted at gaining a better understanding of what causes it and how to manage it. While new findings are being revealed on a regular basis, there are a few things you should know about this common condition.
Chronic pain isn't Just Physical
Chronic pain affects your whole body, not just your injured area or part of your body. It's a complex condition that goes beyond physical discomfort and can include psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression. The emotional aspects can be just as difficult as the physical symptoms for some people with chronic pain.
When you have chronic pain, even the simplest tasks can become difficult. You may find that your concentration is affected, and you're unable to do things that used to be easy. Chronic pain can also affect your mood and make you anxious or depressed. It's likely that the more severe your pain, the more it will interfere with your day-to-day life.
Causes of Chronic Pain are Often Unclear
Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists for 12 weeks or more. It is often linked to an underlying cause — such as arthritis or cancer — but can also occur when there is no clear reason. Chronic pain often develops gradually over time, and it's not always easy to know when the pain began.
The causes of chronic pain can vary greatly from one person to another; some people develop the condition after an injury or accident, while others are born with it. But no matter what its source, chronic pain needs to be treated by a doctor who specializes in this area.
The exact causes of chronic pain are often unclear, but there are some risk factors associated with developing the condition or its severity:
Age - older people are more likely than younger people to experience chronic pain
Gender - women are more likely than men to have chronic musculoskeletal problems (such as arthritis)
Injury - if you've had an accident or injury on one side of your body, you're more likely to develop chronic pain on that side too
Unhealthy lifestyle choices - smoking and obesity increase your risk of developing chronic musculoskeletal conditions like osteoarthritis
There are Many Different Types of Chronic Pain Conditions
People often think about chronic pain strictly in terms of arthritis or back problems — but there are many other types of chronic pains, including headaches and migraines; diabetes-related nerve damage; fibromyalgia; peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage); carpal tunnel syndrome.
Chronic back pain. Back pain is one of the most common types of chronic pain and can affect anyone, especially adults between 30 and 60 years old. Pain can result from an injury, inflammation, or other conditions such as osteoarthritis (a degenerative joint disease) or spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spine).
Chronic headache. Headaches can be caused by stress, poor posture or muscle tension, and tightness in your neck and shoulders. Migraines are a type of headache affecting about 12 percent of Americans yearly. In addition to throbbing pain on one side of your head, migraines may cause nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. They're more common in women than men and typically begin during childhood or adolescence but often go away by late adulthood.
Nerve damage. Nerves carry information from your brain to your muscles and other parts of your body through electrical signals called action potentials. If you injure a nerve, it can cause tingling or numbness in the area where it was damaged (peripheral neuropathy).
Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia causes muscle tenderness along with fatigue and sleep problems, making it difficult for people to function normally daily without help from others.
Arthritis. Arthritis causes swelling and stiffness in the joints. The most common types are osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA). OA usually affects the joints in your hips, knees, hands, and spine. RA can affect any joint but often starts in your hands or wrists.
Arthritis is a degenerative disease that causes joint damage, stiffness, and pain. It's often associated with aging, but anyone can develop arthritis if they have an injury or illness that affects their joints.
Stress Can Make Chronic Pain Worse
Chronic pain is often accompanied by stress and anxiety — and these emotions can make your symptoms worse. Stress and anxiety cause the body to release chemicals called hormones that affect moods and emotions. These hormones increase your heart rate and blood pressure, which in turn can increase your pain. It may also trigger inflammation in the body, leading to joint stiffness and swelling in joints with arthritis.
When you're stressed out about your chronic pain, it's easy for these feelings to spiral out of control until you're overwhelmed by them. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for your mind and body to relax enough for healing and restorative sleep — two things that are essential for managing chronic pain effectively.
Chronic pain is also associated with depression. Depression can make chronic pain worse as well. Depression can also lead to insomnia, another common complaint among people with chronic pain. Insomnia makes it difficult for people with chronic pain to get a good night's sleep, which can worsen their pain.
Stress management techniques may help reduce symptoms of chronic pain. However, the mind-body connection is real — stress can trigger or worsen physical problems, including chronic back pain, headaches, muscle aches and pains, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), incontinence, and more.
Treatment Options for Chronic Pain Vary Widely
Chronic pain is a condition that lasts for more than six months. It's different from acute pain, which is caused by an injury or disease that resolves within six months. Chronic pain can be caused by conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia, but it can also result from medical conditions that don't have a cure, such as cancer.
You may experience discomfort throughout your day and night if you suffer from chronic pain. The pain can range from mild to severe and can interfere with your ability to sleep, work, and play.
You may feel like no one understands what you're going through, but chronic pain affects many people. If you're in pain, it's important to talk with your healthcare provider about it. You may be able to reduce your risk of developing chronic pain by making some lifestyle changes and exercising regularly. It's also important to follow up with your doctor if you have an injury or illness that causes ongoing pain. Your doctor can help you find the right treatment plan for your situation.
Treating chronic pain requires patience and persistence. There are many options to help manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life, but finding the right treatment may take time and experimentation. Lifestyle changes can help relieve symptoms. For example, losing weight can help reduce stress on joints and other parts of the body affected by arthritis or other conditions that cause chronic pain.
Chronic pain is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people every year. It can be very difficult to cope with and make your life miserable. However, there are many treatments for chronic pain that can help you find relief from the symptoms of this condition.
If you are dealing with chronic pain, our pain management NYC center is here to help you live a full and productive life. Here are some of the treatment options:
Physical therapy - Physical therapists can help you to regain strength and flexibility, as well as learn how to manage your pain better. They may also be able to teach you other skills, such as stress reduction techniques and breathing exercises, which can help reduce the severity of your symptoms.
Massage therapy - Massage therapy is another option for treating chronic pain. Massage therapy works by increasing blood flow to the area where it's being performed and reducing muscle tension in that area. It's also been proven effective at reducing stress levels and improving sleep quality.
Acupuncture - Acupuncture involves inserting needles into specific points on your body in order to stimulate certain nerves or muscles in order to relieve pain symptoms. It's been shown effective at treating chronic back pain, neck pain, and headaches, among other conditions.
Living with Chronic Pain is Challenging
When you have chronic pain, it's important to know what you're dealing with so that you can make meaningful decisions about how to improve your situation. Learn as much as you can so that you can take control of your pain and move forward. By listening to your body, working collaboratively with your healthcare provider team you can make significant progress in improving your symptoms and quality of life.