Those who live with pain on a near daily basis often describe it as “debilitating,” “exhausting,” and “intolerable.” Describing it easy, but defining it is more difficult. The Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) offers a useful definition: “[Chronic pain] is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.”
Broadly speaking, if you have pain that persists for more than three months and has not been relieved by medical or surgical care, you may have a chronic pain condition. Chronic pain is a condition characterized by generalized muscle or nerve pain, that continues well beyond reasonable expectations of recovery; it affects 100 million Americans — approximately two out of five adults.
Chronic pain is also often associated with other conditions and diseases, including:
Osteoarthritis & rheumatoid arthritis
Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS)
Recurrent headache, including migraines
Painful neurological disorders resulting from damage to the nerves
Chronic pain can also cause numerous other issues, including:
Immobility, followed by wasting of muscle and joints
Health issues from immune system issues that can cause increased vulnerability to disease
Insomnia and sleep disturbances
Depressed appetite and poor diet
Dependence on medications.
Job performance issues
Isolation from friends and family
Fear and anxiety
Depression which can become severe leading to a higher risk of suicide
20 percent of American adults report suffering from chronic pain, a staggering number that is only expected to increase over coming years. It may seem paradoxical that the prevalence of chronic pain would increase as medicine becomes more sophisticated, but oddly, our scientific advancements are actually part of the reason chronic pain conditions will continue to increase steadily. The population is not only aging, but they’re living longer. Moreover, conditions such as cancer, serious injuries, HIV, that were once a death sentence, are now treatable. And, while the patients survive, they’re often left to deal with severe persistent neuropathic pain.