What Is Chronic Pain Syndrome? | Upwell Health
Updated April 6th 2021
Chronic pain affects one in five Australians. Many times, it leads to depression and disability. When you’re struggling with this condition, your body keeps hurting weeks or even years after an injury. It’s not like when you pull a muscle or cut your finger. The pain is there, day and night.
Statistics show that about a quarter of people dealing with this problem develop chronic pain syndrome, which may cause serious complications. Anxiety, depression, mood swings, and stress are just a few of its side effects.
Fortunately, there are ways to manage chronic pain naturally. Physiotherapy can make a world of difference. Unlike pain relief medications, it’s safer and has no side effects.
Understanding Chronic Pain Syndrome
Chronic pain lasts for at least six months. Its causes range from injury and trauma to diabetes. Researchers believe that it may also have psychological causes, such the repression of unconscious emotional issues. Anxiety and stress can worsen its symptoms.
Under normal conditions, the pain goes away as soon as the injury heals. It’s your body’s natural response to trauma. In this case, you’re dealing with acute pain and this pain is very helpful to protect your body and ensure your survival. If your symptoms last longer than six to 12 months, you may have chronic pain syndrome. This disorder affects mental and physical health, causing secondary complications that make pain worse. You end up caught in a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.
The pain can interfere with your daily life, your work, and your personal relationships. You may have a hard time doing everyday things, such as walking to the store or exercising. Many sufferers lose their confidence and self-esteem, quit their jobs, and become addicted to pain killers. It is estimated that up to 55.2 percent people worldwide are struggling with chronic pain.
This disorder can be hard to treat but not impossible. A combination of education, physiotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and relaxation techniques appears to be effective for most people. The work of Lorimer and Butler has revolutionized how we treat pain conditions.
You will also need to change your diet and lifestyle habits, reduce stress, and get more rest. For instance, some foods may help ease pain and reduce inflammation. Others, especially those high in sugar, have inflammatory properties and can worsen your symptoms.
What Causes Chronic Pain?
The exact cause of chronic pain syndrome is unknown. In general, it starts with trauma or injury. Sometimes, pain is a symptom of an underlying condition, such as:
- Nerve damage
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Past injuries
- Back pain
- Circulatory problems
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Gallbladder disease
- Multiple sclerosis
The pain and discomfort can be also triggered by emotional and psychological factors.
Regardless of its cause, this disorder can lead to job loss, lack of physical activity, anxiety, emotional distress, and financial problems. Physiotherapists work closely with their patients to identify the root cause of pain and relieve its symptoms.
It’s important to understand that chronic pain causes changes in the brain structure. When you have this condition, your brain goes on “high alert,” developing a high sensitivity to pain. Basically, it perceives all sensations from the problem areas as a threat and activates its pain receptors, even when the injury has healed.
For instance, if you’ve had your leg amputated, you may still feel pain that area. Your leg is no longer there, but you continue to experience discomfort. Thus, it’s crucial to address the psychological, neurological and physical (structural) causes of chronic pain.
If left untreated, this condition may lead to fatigue, irritability, insomnia, and major depression syndrome. Many suffers become addicted to alcohol or drugs in an attempt to relieve pain.
Chronic Pain Syndrome
This disorder causes more than just pain. Its symptoms range from mild to severe, and may include:
- Joint and muscle stiffness
- Burning sensation
- Low energy
- Mood changes
- Low libido
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Poor circulation
- Limited range of motion
Some people experience throbbing pain. Others only have dull aches. The intensity of pain may vary throughout the day. Over time, it can take a toll on your life, making you feel angry and draining your energy. This condition also raises your stress levels and affects sleep, which in turn, worsens the pain.
Does Physiotherapy Work for Chronic Pain?
Physiotherapy is a safe, natural way to manage chronic pain. It not only relieves its symptoms but also addresses the factors that exacerbate pain, such as stress and anxiety. This form of treatment can help restore your strength and mobility, improve joint flexibility, and ease stress. It also provides relief from arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other disorders that may cause chronic pain.
Research shows that therapeutic exercise and other active treatments used in physiotherapy provide lasting results. Acupuncture and manual therapy can temporarily relieve pain. The therapist will use a variety of techniques depending on your individual needs. Treatment will also include advice about posture, movement, and stress management.
Physiotherapy helps suffers resume their daily activities and return to work. It also enables them to start exercising and live a normal life. A skilled therapist will show you how to self-manage chronic pain through diet and exercise. They may also refer you to a psychologist so you can learn how to cope with stress and other lifestyle factors that make pain worse.
Most patients tend to increase their medication to reduce pain. Unfortunately, anti-inflammatory drugs and NSADs may cause serious side effects and are often ineffective in this type of pain. Some lose their efficiency over time, or lead to addiction. Physiotherapy has none of these adverse effects. After assessing your symptoms, the therapist will create a treatment plan to help you maintain healthy activity levels and ease pain.