Skip to content

    Pain Management Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Depression and Pain Relief

    What Is Chronic Pain?

    About 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, defined as pain that lasts longer than six months. Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating.

    With chronic pain, signals of pain remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or even years. This can take both a physical and emotional toll on a person.

    Recommended Related to Pain Management

    Take the Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Chronic Pain?

    No doubt about it -- plenty of us are suffering from chronic pain. More than 50 million Americans have some form of this malady, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine. But having lots of company doesn’t make it any easier to bear. Chronic pain wears people down, causes fatigue and insomnia, and results in missed work and social isolation. What can you do if chronic pain is interfering with your life? Start by learning what you know -- and maybe don’t know -- about it with this true or...

    Read the Take the Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Chronic Pain? article > >

    The most common sources of pain stem from headaches, joint pain, pain from injury, and backaches. Other kinds of chronic pain include tendinitis, sinus pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and pain affecting specific parts of the body, such as the shoulders, pelvis, and neck. Generalized muscle or nerve pain can also develop into a chronic condition.

    Chronic pain may originate with an initial trauma/injury or infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain. However, some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage.

    The emotional toll of chronic pain also can make pain worse. Anxiety, stress, depression, anger and fatigue interact in complex ways with chronic pain and may decrease the body's production of natural painkillers; moreover, such negative feelings may increase the level of substances that amplify sensations of pain, causing a vicious cycle of pain for the person. Even the body's most basic defenses may be compromised: There is considerable evidence that unrelenting pain can suppress the immune system.

    Because of the mind-body links associated with chronic pain, effective treatment requires addressing psychological as well as physical aspects of the condition.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD on April 19, 2015

    Today on WebMD

    pain in brain and nerves
    Top causes and how to find relief.
    knee exercise
    8 exercises for less knee pain.
     
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    How it helps arthritis, migraines, and dental pain.
    chronic pain
    Get personalized tips to reduce discomfort.
     
    illustration of nerves in hand
    Slideshow
    lumbar spine
    Slideshow
     
    Woman opening window
    Slideshow
    Man holding handful of pills
    Video
     
    Woman shopping for vegetables
    Slideshow
    Sore feet with high heel shoes
    Slideshow
     
    acupuncture needles in woman's back
    Slideshow
    man with a migraine
    Slideshow