What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is frequent, continuous or constant pain. Those who suffer from chronic pain usually find their pain is not relieved by typical methods or standard medical therapy.

A chronic pain patient usually has tried many therapies and has not responded to them with significant relief. Most of the time a chronic pain sufferer will be utilizing several methods to diminish pain.

Unlike acute pain from an injury which usually heals, gets better and goes away, chronic pain persists from several months to years to even a lifetime. For most of the patients we work with, the pain has been going on for years before they sought answers outside of the usual medical community.

Chronic pain is often associated with significant side effects like depression, loss of libido, weight gain, inactivity, irritability, anger and insomnia to name a few. Chronic pain patients often find themselves taking several medications that may leave them functioning poorly, sometimes accentuating the side effects they have or cause more side effects like sexual dysfunction, constipation, difficulty urinating, confusion and memory problems.

Chronic pain is usually the result of some injury to the body. Most of the people we work with have spinal problems (back and neck pain), nerve damage(diabetic neuropathy), joint problems, connective tissue disease (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus), cancer, fibromyalgia or headaches. But we work with all types of people from all walks of life and have seen all kinds of experiences that lead to chronic pain.

Each person experiences pain differently.  The pain you experience depends on biological and neurochemical responses by your body and brain as well as socioeconomic and cultural influences. For example, there is evidence that a traumatic childhood increases your risks for developing chronic pain.

Many chronic pain patients have had usual therapies that failed and/or made their pain worse. Sometimes it is spinal surgery or orthopaedic surgery that didn’t go right or it could be as simple as an injection that was done the wrong place and injured a nerve.

Much of the time, pain lasts for a short time and we know its cause. In contrast, the cause of chronic pain is not always clear cut and it may be complicated by neurological mechanisms.

Dr. Kent



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