Is Chronic Pain a Disease?

Chronic pain

Origin of the disease

Nowadays chronic pain is a major medical and socio-economic problem all over the world. Almost half of the entire population of our planet experiences chronic or recurrent pain. Pain accompanies almost 70% of all known illnesses and pathological conditions. Generally, this ache persists for 3 months, lasts for 1 month after resolution of acute tissue injury, or accompanying non-healing injuries. Usually, the disease is identified after a chronic pain diagnosis.

Chronic pain causes

Chronic pain is caused by prolonged nociceptive or neuropathic impulses that occur in the presence of long-term and persistent diseases. In some cases, even small damage can lead to long-term changes (sensitization) in the nervous system — from peripheral receptors to the cerebral cortex, which can lead to the generation of stable pain perception in the absence of an ongoing pain stimulus. Types of chronic pain are developed due to several reasons:

  • chronic diseases (such as cancer, arthritis, diabetes);
  • various injuries (like herniated disc, torn ligament);
  • a large number of primary pain syndromes (for example neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, chronic headache).

Another reason for persistent pain is psychological factors. Thus, a combination of the influence of several physical processes is usually the source of chronic pain. In some cases (eg, chronic low back pain after an injury) the source of the pain is obvious; in others (eg, persistent headache, atypical facial pain, chronic abdominal pain), the true source of pain may not be as obvious. In most patients, physical processes are certainly involved in the maintenance of chronic pain, which in some chronic pain cases is the main factor (as, for example, in cancer pain).

Besides, various factors in the patient’s environment, such as attitudes of family members or  friends can also reinforce behaviors that lead to persistence of chronic pain. Chronic pain can lead to or worsen psychological problems, including:

  • depression;
  • anxiety;
  • stress and others.

Chronic pain symptoms

Chronic pain is often accompanied by several factors:

  • autonomic disturbances (fatigue, sleep disturbances, decreased appetite, impaired taste, weight loss, libido, constipation) that develop gradually;
  • depression and anxiety, affecting almost all of the patient’s activities.
  • decreased physical activity,
  • psychological and social impairments
  • consequences of unsuccessful treatment, including surgery, poor-quality examinations and analyzes and taking a large number of medications.
  • alcohol and drug abuse
  • inadequate medical care.

If you suffer from any of these issues, consult the specialist to choose the best chronic pain treatment for you.

Diagnosis of chronic pain

All processes occurring in the body associated with chronic pain should be comprehensively investigated and characterized. However, after a thorough initial examination, it makes no sense to prescribe repeated examinations without special indications. The doctor will make a diagnosis according to your chronic pain symptoms. Avoiding endless diagnostic procedures and focusing on pain relief and recovery is often the best solution.

Treatment of chronic pain

In the process of treatment both medications and physical therapy can be used. Psychotherapy and behavioral therapy are often effective. If rational and adequate treatment is ineffective, it is recommended to refer the patient to specialized clinics that practice a multidisciplinary approach. However, a lot of patients prefer home-based pain management, even though hospitalization provides more options for treatment. So, people should change the most suitable form of treatment for them together with the doctor due to their types of chronic pain.

Our Doctors

DR. MARIA DOLGOVINA
Neurologist
Dr. Dolgovina is board-certified in Neurology and Sleep Medicine
DR. MARINA NEYSTAT
Neurologist
Dr. Marina Neystat is a board-certified neurologist, Affiliate Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, and co-owner of Advanced Medical Care

Advanced Medical Care doctors carry out diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive and rehabilitation procedures using modern equipment

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