Chronic Pain Syndrome

Topic Overview

In some people who have long-lasting pain, biochemical changes are triggered in the body, causing a different type of chronic pain (neuropathic pain) that doctors currently find difficult to diagnose and treat. Pain signals are somehow triggered by the nervous system and continue to fire for months or even years. (It is also possible that certain brain chemicals that suppress pain do not work properly.)

Regardless of the cause, chronic pain syndrome affects all aspects of your life, straining relationships and making it difficult to keep up with work and home responsibilities. Common reactions to chronic pain over time include fear, frustration, anger, depression, and anxiety. These feelings can make it harder to manage chronic pain, especially if you use alcohol or drugs to deal with your symptoms.

Chronic pain often requires both counseling and medical treatment, because it can have a wearing effect on both the mind and the body. Think about getting treatment at a pain management clinic. You can get multidisciplinary treatment from a team of specialists there.

Some chronic pain clinics have a stronger emphasis on invasive treatment, such as injections and surgical procedures, than others. Look for a clinic that offers you a choice of noninvasive treatments, including cognitive-behavioral therapy. Before having an invasive pain treatment, ask your doctor about his or her experience with that treatment. Also, ask about research that shows how well it works for your condition.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Nancy Greenwald, MD - Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Last Revised January 9, 2013

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