Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
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 three 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.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
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Causes of Chronic Pain
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Other Causes of Chronic Pain
- Previous Injury
- Previous Trauma
Examples of Medications for Chronic Pain
- acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol Ext, Little Fevers Children's Fever/Pain)
- amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)
- aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid, Bayer, Ecotrin, and others)
- codeine (for Pain)
- Cox-2 Inhibitors
- duloxetine - oral, Cymbalta
- fentanyl patch (Duragesic)
- hydrocodone (Zohydro ER)
- hydrocodone and ibuprofen, Vicoprofen
- ibuprofen (Advil, Children's Advil/Motrin, Medipren, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever, and others)
- morphine sustained-action capsule - oral, Kadian
- orphenadrine (Norflex)
- perphenazine and amitriptyline hydrochloride (Etrafon - brand no longer available in the US)
- propoxyphene and acetaminophen, Darvocet A500; Darvocet-N, Wygesic
- propoxyphene, Darvon, Darvon-N, Dolene
- tramadol and acetaminophen, Ultracet
- Tramadol: for Pain (Ultram, Ultram ER, Conzip)
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