What is Chronic Pain?
Pain is a warning mechanism for the survival of human beings that, under normal circumstances, warns our body that it is suffering some kind of damage. However, there are situations where pain does not end when the cause that caused it is resolved, persisting over time, and can affect different spheres of our lives, both emotional, family, and work.
When this pain persists for more than 3 months after the triggering cause has ceased, it is an entity of its own and can be considered chronic pain and a disease in itself.
In our country, 32% of the adult population suffers some type of pain. The prevalence of chronic pain reaches 17% of the Spanish population, and of this percentage, 47% suffer pain on a daily basis.
The Spanish Pain Society (SED) estimates that between 40% and 80% of medical consultations are related to pain, being the most frequent cause for which patients come to the medical center. From an occupational point of view, chronic pain is responsible for almost 50% of all absenteeism and 60% of permanent work incapacity.
What are the causes of chronic pain?
The World Health Organization (WHO) presented 2018 a new edition of the International Classification of Diseases, which includes a new categorization system for chronic pain:
Primary chronic pain: characterized by functional impairment or emotional stress not explainable by another cause, and posing as a disease in itself. It is a multifactorial pain, either due to biological, psychological, or social causes.
Secondary chronic pain or symptom of an underlying clinical condition: that derived from surgery or trauma, cancer, nerve injury, internal organs, headaches, or the musculoskeletal system.
Thus, chronic pain is clearly recognizable independently of other indicators such as intensity, impact on functionality, and related distress (negative stress).
What are the symptoms of chronic pain?
Chronic pain can occur anywhere in the body. This pain can attack the head, back, joints, internal viscera, and even the nerves of the nervous system itself.
The symptoms depend on the type of pain, being different if it derives from:
Musculoskeletal system: patients suffering pain derived from their muscles, tendons, or bones usually refer to it as oppressive and well delimited, and may worsen with movement and physical activity.
Visceral system: it is usually described as a dull, deep, poorly delimited pain, often associated with symptoms such as nausea, sweating, dizziness, and urinary problems.
Nervous system: pain resulting from direct injury to one or more nerves is described as pinching, stabbing, or electric shock, and is accompanied by symptoms such as loss of sensation (tingling) and loss of strength.
Apart from these physical symptoms and because chronic pain can affect the emotional, family, and work sphere, it is frequently associated with anxious-depressive symptoms, which are just as important to treat appropriately.
What is its possible treatment?
The treatment of chronic pain disease requires the performance of a specialist with experience in this field, in the same way, that specific knowledge is essential for the treatment of the original disease. Check out their web page they have such a good point about chronic pain treatment.
It is important that the management of chronic pain is multidisciplinary, so that the approach is complete, covering the entire biopsychosocial sphere of the patient. When a person has chronic pain that is difficult to manage for the primary care physician or specialist who identifies it, he or she can be referred to a pain specialist or pain unit, where this disease is addressed with more specific procedures that improve the quality of life of these patients.