Chronic Pain and How It’s Defined

In its simplicity, chronic pain is pain that consistently lasts for a long time. From a medical standpoint the threshold understood by professionals is pain lasting at least three months from onset.

Most people have experienced temporary pain. Pain caused by an injury that subsides once the wound has healed. However, with chronic pain the body continues to send pain signals to the brain. Pain messages are sent through the peripheral nervous system telling the brain it must react to a threat. That is why most pain medications work in a way that disrupt or inhibit the communication between the pain point and the brain.

How pain feels varies from person to person but typical sensations include

  • Burning

  • Aching

  • Throbbing

  • Pins and needles

  • Headache

  • Stiffness

  • Stinging

  • Soreness

Some of the most common types, or categories, of pain are

  • Low-back Pain

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Neck Pain

  • Muscle soreness/stiffness

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Nerve Damage

  • Loss of limb

Chronic pain can limit your mobility and reduce your flexibility, strength, and endurance. This may make it challenging to get through daily tasks and activities. Also, when you fight a constant battle against pain new symptoms begin to arise: Exhaustion and lack of energy, weakness, change in appetite, change in mood, and trouble sleeping. Chronic pain can also lead to challenges with mental health such as depression and anxiety.

Given the propensity for negative long-term effects, chronic pain is something most people should try to prevent, ease or, if possible, get rid of entirely. It is not uncommon for people to ignore pain in hopes it will go away without treatment. However, if pain is neglected and goes untreated it has the potential to get worse and/or lead to the additional ailments above.

Managing pain varies depending on where the pain is and what type of pain it is. Talking with your healthcare provider can help you get to the root of your situation and together you can develop a plan to regulate your symptoms.

As with any health related circumstances a nutritious healthy diet goes a long way to preventing and/or relieving symptoms. For example, if you are overweight or obese the added weight your bones and muscles are carrying may contribute (or cause) pain. There are also certain foods that contribute to stress, which could, in fact, lead to muscle tenseness, neck pain, back pain and headaches.

You know your body best. You know what feels right and what does not. Stoicism may not be the best course of action. Being mindful and aware are a couple of your best tools at managing long-term pain and/or preventing it all together.

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