What is Chronic Pain? Acute pain is a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself. Chronic pain is different. Chronic pain persists. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years. Chronic pain can be initiated by single event such as sprained back or there may be an ongoing cause of pain like arthritis, cancer or ear infection.
Fibromyalgia is a medically unexplained syndrome characterized by chronic widespread pain and a heightened and painful response to pressure. Difficulty with swallowing, bowel and bladder abnormalities, numbness, tingling and cognitive dysfunction are common symptoms. Symptoms of fibromyalgia can vary in intensity. Fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive difficulties, and joint stiffness are the most prevalent symptoms reported. Additional common symptoms may include depression, anxiety, migraines, tension headaches, pelvic pain, irritable or overactive bladder, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), temporo-mandibular joint disease (TMJD), and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD). There is no cure for fibromyalgia. Multi-disciplinary approaches for relief of symptoms are recommended including medications, cognitive behavioral therapies, and gentle exercise.
Chronic pain includes spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease. Surgery is not always the answer. There are many noninvasive treatments to try before considering surgery. The spinal column is complex. It is composed of 33 vertebrae and 2 sets of fused vertebrae, intervertebral discs, ligaments, tendons, muscles and 31 pairs of nerves.
COMPLEX REGIONAL PAIN
It is estimated that Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) affects nearly 200,000 patients annually in the United States. Complex regional pain syndrome is a form of chronic pain that usually affects an arm or a leg. CRPS typically develops after an injury, a surgery, a stroke or a heart attack. The pain is out of proportion to the severity of the initial injury.
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a chronic pain condition most often affecting one of the limbs (arms, legs, hands, or feet). It usually occurs after an injury or trauma to that limb, and is believed to be caused by damage to the peripheral and central nervous systems. CRPS is characterized by prolonged or excessive pain and changes in skin color, temperature, and swelling in the affected area. These symptoms vary in severity and duration. Most cases are mild and individuals recover gradually with time. In more severe cases, individuals may not recover and may have long-term disability. The pain may feel like a burning, “pins and needles” sensation, or as if someone is squeezing the affected limb. The pain may spread to include the entire arm or leg, even though the precipitating injury might have been only to a finger or toe. Pain can sometimes even travel to the opposite extremity. There is often increased sensitivity in the affected area, such that even light touch or contact is painful. Other common features of CRPS include changes in skin texture, nail and hair growth patterns, abnormal sweating pattern, stiffness in affected joints, decreased ability to move the affected body part, fixed abnormal posture, and tremors in or jerking of the affected limb.