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Chronic Pain (cont.)

What Increases Your Risk

Factors that may increase the risk of chronic pain include:

  • Aging. Older adults are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, shingles, and other causes of nerve problems (neuropathy). But chronic pain is not a normal part of growing older.
  • Smoking. Nicotine use can increase pain and decrease the effectiveness of medicines.
  • Health problems. These include:
    • Existing health conditions, such as fibromyalgia, shingles, arthritis, depression or anxiety disorders, or having a limb amputated (phantom limb pain).
    • Past health problems, such as joint injuries. Also, previous surgery may cause new pain or may not work to relieve pain (such as back surgery that does not relieve pain).
    • Overall general health condition. You may have a weakened immune system, which can lead to frequent infections or illness.
    • Conditions that are difficult to treat, such as nerve pain from shingles (postherpetic neuralgia).
  • Lifestyle, such as not eating healthy foods, not exercising regularly, smoking, or having a substance abuse or alcohol dependency problem.

Other factors that may increase your risk for chronic pain include stress, relationship problems, or a history of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.

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