Chronic Pain

Chronic pain facts*

*Chronic pain facts by

  • Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience.
  • Acute pain results from disease, inflammation, or injury to tissues and comes on suddenly. The cause of acute pain can usually be diagnosed and treated, and the pain is confined to a given period of time and severity.
  • Chronic pain persists over a longer period of time than acute pain and is resistant to most medical treatments. It often causes severe problems for patients.
  • There are hundreds of types of pain. Common pain syndromes include arthritis, back pain, central pain syndrome, cancer pain, headaches, head and facial pain, muscle pain, myofascial pain syndromes, neuropathic pain, reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS), sciatica, shingles and other painful disorders of the skin, sports injuries, spinal stenosis, surgical pain, temporomandibular disorders, trauma, and vascular disease or injury.
  • No test can measure the intensity of pain, no imaging device can show pain, and no instrument can locate pain precisely The patient's own description of the type, duration, and location of pain may be the best aid in diagnosis.
  • Tests used to determine the cause of pain include electrodiagnostic procedures such as electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction studies, and evoked potential (EP) studies; imaging, especially magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); neurological examination; or X-rays.
  • The goal of pain management is to improve function, enabling individuals to work, attend school, or participate in day-to-day activities.
  • The most common treatments for pain include analgesic pain relievers (aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen), acupuncture, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, migraine headache medicines, biofeedback, capsaicin, chiropractic, cognitive and behavioral therapy, counseling, COX-2 inhibitors, electrical stimulation, exercise, hypnosis, lasers, magnets, nerve blocks, opioids, physical therapy and rehabilitation, R.I.C.E. -- Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation, and surgery.
  • It is believed that pain affects men and women differently. This may be due to hormones, psychology, and culture.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/15/2014

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What Is Pain?

Find out about pain

Pain is a feeling triggered in the nervous system. Pain may be sharp or dull. It may come and go, or it may be constant. You may feel pain in one area of your body, such as your back, abdomen or chest or you may feel pain all over, such as when your muscles ache from the flu.

Pain can be helpful in diagnosing a problem. Without pain, you might seriously hurt yourself without knowing it, or you might not realize you have a medical problem that needs treatment. Once you take care of the problem, pain usually goes away. However, sometimes pain goes on for weeks, months or even years. This is called chronic pain. Sometimes chronic pain is due to an ongoing cause, such as cancer or arthritis. Sometimes the cause is unknown.

Fortunately, there are many ways to treat pain. Treatment varies depending on the cause of pain. Pain relievers, acupuncture and sometimes surgery are helpful.

SOURCE: NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke


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