Chronic Pain


Chronic Pain

Acute pain signals injury and alerts you to the fact that you need to modify your movements.  Chronic pain is different – it’s the result of pain signals firing in the nervous system even after the physical process of healing is more or less complete.  Chronic pain can be the result of an injury (e.g. a broken bone), a chronic illness (e.g. arthritis), or there might not be a clear reason (that can be detected by medical technology) why the pain started.  Because pain signals can’t be detected by CT scans or X-rays, chronic pain can be difficult to diagnose and is often missed by health professionals.

What Are The Symptoms Of Chronic Pain?

Symptoms of chronic pain can be vague and difficult to diagnose, but a chronic pain diagnosis is usually considered when:

  • The pain has lasted for more than 6 months
  • The pain is the result of an injury that should have healed by now
  • The pain hasn’t responded to usual treatments
  • The pain causes high levels of distress
  • The pain worsens with stress

How Does Chronic Pain Change Someone’s Life?

Living with pain on a daily basis is stressful. Pain itself is distressing and challenging to live with, but experiencing pain on a daily basis and not not knowing why it’s occurring or when it will stop adds to this distress. Chronic pain can also:

  • Interfere with a person ability to work, which in turn causes financial worries
  • Limit or stop an individual from participating in activities they used to enjoy
  • Strains relationships, especially when loved ones question the genuineness of the pain
  • Cause anxiety, irritability, or depression
  • Interfere with sleep, which exacerbates anxiety and low mood in the longer-term

Treatment For Chronic Pain

There are large gaps in our understanding of chronic pain and the pain system.  We still don’t completely understand for example why pain continues after a physical injury has healed.  Our incomplete knowledge means that there is no cure for chronic pain, which is a source of great frustration for people battling pain on a daily basis.

While there is no cure for chronic pain, it is worthwhile seeking advice from a clinical psychologist.  A clinical psychologist can provide you with strategies to better manage your pain so you can limit the impact of  pain in your day to day life.