Primary Care: Chronic Pain

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Chronic pain is often defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks, and it can persist for months or years. Chronic pain can develop after an acute injury or an illness, however there may be no clear cause. Chronic pain can affect both your physical and mental health. When you hurt yourself, pain sensors in that area send an electrical message from nerve to nerve to your brain. For example, when a torn muscle or wound heals, the pain signal stops. However, with chronic pain, the nerve signals keep firing.

This can occur because the chemicals in the brain that stop pain after you get better from an illness or injury aren’t working properly, or nerves might be damaged. Some causes of chronic pain can be: • Arthritis • Back pain • Previous surgeries • Migraines and headaches Some people experience mild chronic pain, while others have more severe symptoms. Chronic pain may come and go or you may experience it every day.

Chronic pain symptoms include: • Aching • Soreness • Stiffness • Throbbing • Burning If you have ongoing chronic pain, you may feel very tired and could become depressed. It’s important to address the pain and any mental health issues related to your condition. Chronic pain treatment may include over-the-counter (OTC) and/or prescription medications. Your healthcare provider may also recommend that you work with a physical therapist to manage pain and improve mobility and range of motion. In most cases, chronic pain can be managed effectively so that you can enjoy your daily activities again.

Chronic pain is often defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks. Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, and at times totally incapacitating. Approximately 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain.

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