Symptoms of Chronic Pain

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Chronic pain is pain that persists more than 6 months. Pain is a very subjective experience, though, so we can't say something as categorical as "All chronic pain patients will feel this way."
Woman laying down with back painPain is a very subjective experience, so we can't say something as categorical as "All chronic pain patients will feel this way."It is possible to say that chronic pain takes on many forms. It can be:

  • throbbing
  • aching
  • shooting
  • electric
  • burning
  • sharp
  • feeling stiff
  • feeling tight
  • feeling sore

Chronic pain can lead to other problems, especially social and emotional ones. Chronic pain may:

  • lead to sleeplessness
  • drain you of energy
  • lead to depression
  • make you not want to do activities you typically enjoy
  • weaken your immune system because so much of your body's energy is spent dealing with the pain

A lot of these other problems build off each other, so you may hear the phrase "vicious cycle" when talking about chronic pain. For example: The pain makes it difficult to sleep at night, so you're excessively tired the next day. You don't want to go to work—or do anything else—because you're so tired. Because you aren't as active, you lose self-esteem and start to withdraw even more from your social life.

A cycle like that doesn't have to control your life, though.

To get the best treatment for chronic pain, you have to take stock of how much it's affecting your life—beyond the physical pain. You can't just treat the pain in chronic pain, and your doctor and other medical professionals can help you fully live your life, even with the chronic pain.

Updated on: 08/21/18
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Causes of Chronic Pain
Steven Richeimer, MD
Division of Pain Medicine
Keck School of Medicine
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Causes of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can be caused by so many things: Read this article to learn the general categories of chronic pain causes.
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