Chronic Pain

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Chronic pain is pain (an unpleasant sense of discomfort) that persists or progresses over a long period of time. Chronic pain typically has persisted for at least 3 months. In contrast to acute pain that arises suddenly in response to a specific injury and is usually treatable, chronic pain persists over time and is often resistant to medical treatments. Chronic pain tends to interfere with the ability to perform activities of daily living and affects the quality of life.

Chronic pain may be related to a number of different medical conditions, previous trauma or injury. Chronic pain in older adults is often related to degenerative conditions that are caused by advancing age, including arthritis and wear and tear issues affecting the spine. These conditions commonly cause pain in the back, neck, hips, and knees.

Chronic pain may worsen in response to environmental and/or psychological factors.

There are a variety of treatment options for people with chronic pain. The goal of pain management is to provide symptom relief and improve an individual's level of functioning in daily activities. A number of types of medications have been used in the management of chronic pain. Interestingly, chronic pain can sometimes be relieved by stopping smoking and/or caffeine, reducing weight, exercising, optimizing nutrition and/or sleep. Chronic pain requires the diligent monitoring of caring health care providers.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/27/2012

Health concern on your mind? Visit the Symptom Checker.

REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2008.

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