What is chronic pain?
While pain is a very subjective phenomenon, the toll it takes on a person's total well-being when it won't go away is all too real. It can affect physical health, emotional stability, job performance, and lifestyle. Understanding chronic pain is difficult, but gaining an understanding is the most important tool one must have in order to deal with chronic pain symptoms and their resolution.
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts long after the initial injury is resolved. Sometimes it can even occur without a specific cause. Complex diseases and some chronic conditions can cause actual changes in the brain and nervous system, and subsequently in other parts of your body directly affected by those nerves. These physiological changes alter the way pain signals are sent and received, which can create a syndrome whereby discomfort and dysfunction become continuous or magnified. Add to that an emotional component, where a person's past experiences with pain factor into how their nervous system responds to painful stimuli, and you've got a situation that can be difficult to live with.
Other conditions of daily life are not only related to, but are also affected by, chronic pain. These include mental health, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue.
Approximately 75 million Americans are living with chronic pain, the majority having to make lifestyle changes to accommodate for it. The bottom line is, pain is real. How profoundly it affects you depends on how your nervous system processes information associated with painful stimuli. Getting help from specialists to manage and deal with chronic pain will keep your symptoms from defining you and running your life.
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