Chronic pain is a condition where a person is living in pain for a prolonged period of time. The pain can be caused by an injury, health condition or no identifiable cause. The definition for diagnosing chronic pain can vary among professionals. Some clinicians will diagnose chronic pain if painful symptoms last longer than 1, 3, 6 or 12 months, while others will diagnose chronic pain if the symptoms last longer than the amount of time that it would take for the area causing pain to heal under normal circumstances.
Chronic pain is typically associated with an injury or damage to the body (i.e. broken bones, surgery, car crash) or nerve injury to the central nerves (brain and spinal cord) or peripheral nerves. In some cases, there might be no explanation for the cause of chronic pain.
Chronic pain from injuries or body damage is the result of damage to pain centres in the affected area. All parts of our body have pain centres, which are small nerve fibres that transmit the injury message back to the brain. This type of chronic pain is often associated with constant sharp or aching pain; however, symptoms can vary.
Chronic pain from nerve injury or neuropathy can be the result of injury to a nerve (e.g. brain or spinal cord) or damage to peripheral nerves from diabetes, chemotherapy, alcohol or toxins. This type of chronic pain is often associated with burning, tingling or pins and needles symptoms.
Chronic pain from no specific cause is possibly the most frustrating type of chronic pain. In some cases, there can be inflammation or other neurological conditions that are causing symptoms. Cases with no specific cause are referred to as idiopathic pain – meaning from no specific cause. Sometimes, emotional stresses can cause physical pain.
You can learn more about the signs and symptoms of chronic pain HERE.
Learn how to thrive while living with chronic pain HERE.
Learn about managing painful symptoms HERE.
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