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Chronic Pain (cont.)

Symptoms

The symptoms of chronic pain include:

  • Pain that does not go away as expected after an illness or injury.
  • Pain that may be described as shooting, burning, aching, or electrical.
  • Discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness.

Pain can lead to other problems, such as:

  • Fatigue, which can cause impatience and a loss of motivation.
  • Sleeplessness, often because the pain keeps you awake during the night.
  • Withdrawal from activity and an increased need to rest.
  • A weakened immune system, leading to frequent infections or illness.
  • Depression, which is common and can make your pain worse.
  • Other mood changes, such as hopelessness, fear, irritability, anxiety, and stress.
  • Disability, which may include not being able to go to work or school or perform other daily activities.

What Happens

Whether your chronic pain develops after an injury or illness or on its own, the result is often the same: a cycle of sleeplessness, inactivity, irritability, depression, and more pain.

Chronic pain may be mild to severe. It may come back from time to time over several weeks, months, or years. Exercise, regular massages, and pain-relieving medicines—such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin—may be enough to manage your symptoms.

On the other hand, you may have constant chronic pain that is severe and needs more than home treatment. Without treatment, chronic pain syndrome (changes in the body caused by long-term pain) can become disabling.

The lives of your family members, friends, or caregivers can also be affected. The people you count on to help you may also need some support. Family therapy or involvement in a caregiver support program may help.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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