WHAT IS CHRONIC PAIN?
Chronic pain is typically a pain that lasts longer than the usual time it takes for normal tissue healing (normal tissue healing generally takes somewhere between 6-12 weeks). Pain is usually considered chronic in nature if it lasts at least 3 months or longer. Chronic pain can last months, years or even decades.
Neuropathic pain is a different term for chronic pain that is frequently used. When the neurological system is malfunctioning, pain signals are sent to the brain even when there may not be any tissue damage.
Chronic pain in contrast to nociceptive pain. Nociceptive pain is when physical tissue damage has occurred. It is named such because of nociceptors (nerves) in the body made specifically for detecting physical or mechanical damage to skin, bones, muscles and organs. Examples of nociceptive pain include pain induced by a bruise, fracture, cut/laceration or blow to the body. This type of pain can also be caused by extreme heat/cold or chemical burns.
Although it's not always the case, chronic pain usually develops following an injury or medical condition. Sometimes it can appear out of nowhere. All aspects of your lifestyle can be affected, ranging from extremely mild to severe. If left untreated and without a strong support network of medical specialists to help you through your rehabilitation, chronic pain can have serious negative impacts on your mental health.
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HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE CHRONIC PAIN?
Chronic pain typically lasts 3 or more months. If you’re unsure, a healthcare professional can assist you with a diagnosis.
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WHAT CAUSES CHRONIC PAIN?
In many cases, the cause can be very difficult to diagnose. Typically it is caused by an injury that was left untreated. However, nerve damage can also be a common culprit.
Chronic pain can also be caused by illnesses like cancer, several types of arthritis, obesity, MS, and many more.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF CHRONIC PAIN?
Symptoms can include:
If chronic pain is left untreated, symptoms can also include:
A feeling of general malaise – fatigue or constantly feeling burnt out
Sleeplessness (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep)
CAN YOU PREVENT CHRONIC PAIN?
Keeping yourself at a healthy weight (to prevent excessive wear and tear of your knees, hips and other joints)
Being aware of good posture
Learning correct lifting techniques
Proper sleep hygiene
Regular weight training and mobility exercises
If we use chronic back pain as an example, we could look at several things that could be done to help prevent this problem from becoming chronic:
Also, checking in regularly with a healthcare professional such as a physiotherapist and kinesiologist when you experience an injury early can also help.