Chronic pain: Pain (an unpleasant sense of discomfort) that persists or progresses over a long period of time. 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 may be related to a number of different medical conditions including (but not limited to) diabetes, arthritis, migraine, fibromyalgia, cancer, shingles, sciatica, and previous trauma or injury. 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, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, COX-2 inhibitors, antimigraine medications, sedatives, opioids, and antidepressants. Nonpharmacologic treatments for chronic pain can include exercise, physical therapy, counseling, electrical stimulation, biofeedback, acupuncture, hypnosis, chiropractic medicine, and other treatments.
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Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016