Chronic pain is any pain lasting longer than 12 weeks. It can be caused by injury, but some people suffer from chronic pain in the absence of a previous injury.
Chronic pain can make a person become stressed and fatigued. This may cause the body to produce less of its natural pain killers (endorphins), creating a vicious pain cycle. Lower back pain, neck pain and headaches are among the most common chronic pain areas. There aren't any tests that measure intensity and location of pain, so the diagnosis for chronic pain becomes somewhat subjective. The best descriptions include noting whether the pain is sharp or dull, constant or intermittent.
What is chronic pain?
The Pain Cycle
Pain that doesn’t go away
Soreness, stiffness, discomfort
Week Immune System
The main goals are to decrease pain and increase function in order for the patient to be able to go back to their usual daily activities. There are many treatment options for pain with some being more effective than others. It's important to note that chronic pain often cannot be eliminated entirely. With proper treatment, however, it can be managed. The most common treatments for chronic pain include electric stimulation, cryotherapy, laser therapy, adjustment by a chiropractor, medications, massage therapy, rehabilitation, biofeedback and modification of patient behaviour.
It is important for the patient to actively participate in their own treatment. This includes problem solving and recording triggers that may be causing or contributing to pain. Combining this 'take action' approach with other forms of treatment will help tremendously in the management of chronic pain symptoms. Communication between the patient and healthcare provider is important when using this approach.
A proper program of chronic pain management will help patients deal with the pain and increase the possibility for them to remain healthy, active and continue their usual activities of daily living.