There are many types of chronic pain disorders that can vary in intensity from uncomfortable to excruciating and debilitating. Pain that lasts for more than three to six months is generally considered chronic. Because chronic pain can be long-lasting, there are many physiological, psychological and emotional changes that may occur. Those changes range from fluctuations in blood pressure or heart rate to anxiety, depression, problems sleeping or loss of appetite.
Although chronic pain may develop due to an injury or infection, many people suffer from chronic pain with no incidence of either. The most common chronic pain disorders are headaches, joint pain, backaches and pain originating from various diseases.
Muscle tension headaches which may be caused from stress or fatigue, are one type of chronic pain, as are eye strain headaches resulting from sitting at the computer for too long or wearing the wrong eye glass prescription. Migraines and cluster headaches are two of the most painful types of headaches and can be brought on by factors such as stress or exposure to alcohol or smoke.
Joint pain may also tend to be chronic. Two common types of joint pain are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis affects mostly the elderly and is caused by normal wear and tear on the joints over time. Rheumatoid arthritis may occur much earlier in a person’s life and is quite painful due to the amount of swelling that occurs in the joints and surrounding tissue. This variety of arthritis may also affect other organs, and over time can damage bones, ligaments and tendons, which can result in tendonitis. Tendonitis can be caused by the overuse of a particular part of the body such as the arm, knee (Hyperextended Knee) or shoulder. Because of the abuse that their bodies endure, many athletes suffer from arthritis.
There are several common types of chronic back pain. Those include slipped discs, spinal stenosis, compression fractures, soft tissue damage, traumatic fractures and structural deformities. Back problems may be caused from heavy lifting, falling or accidents. They can also be associated with spinal abnormalities such as scoliosis.
Nerve pain or neuralgia, which can affect any nerve in the body, can be another type of chronic pain. Some examples of nerve pain are sciatica, bulging discs and carpal tunnel syndrome. Still other nerve pain may be caused by cancer, diabetes or other types of autoimmune diseases.
Fibromyalgia, a complex disease whose origin is not completely understood, can be devastating. Many believe it is a syndrome brought about and exacerbated by stress. Those who suffer from this malady often experience chronic fatigue, muscle aches and pains and even irritable bowel syndrome.
Living with and treating chronic pain disorders can be difficult. However, with the help of a caring and knowledgeable doctor, the assistance of the proper pain medication, physical therapy and pain management treatment the effects of chronic pain can be reduced, thereby improving the quality of life.