Chronic pain is pain that persists or recurs for > 3 months, persists > 1 month after resolution of an acute tissue injury, or accompanies a nonhealing lesion. Causes include chronic disorders (eg, cancer, arthritis, diabetes), injuries (eg, herniated disk, torn ligament), and many primary pain disorders (eg, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, chronic headache). Various drugs and psychologic treatments are used.
Chronic Pain Does More Than Just Hurt
Chronic pain can have many, sometimes serious consequences:
- Loss of sleep
- Fatigue and loss of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Lack of participation in activities, resulting in social isolation
- Avoidance of physical activity, resulting in loss of muscle strength and flexibility
- For older people, difficulty doing their daily activities and increased dependence on other people
- Pain relieverssuch as acetaminophen, aspirin, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Other drugssuch as certain antidepressants and anticonvulsants
- Other treatmentssuch as biofeedback, relaxation training, distraction techniques, and hypnosis
- Topical Compounds combining multiple pain relievers, muscle relaxers, neuropathic, and analgesics to create multimodal analgesia
Doctors may prescribe opioid pain relieverswhen other treatments do not work.
Pain may also be treated as part of rehabilitation therapy. Such treatment makes movement easier and enables people to participate more fully in rehabilitation. Techniques used include heat therapy, cold therapy, electrical stimulation, traction, massage, and acupuncture.