What is Chronic Pain Syndrome?

Quincy AdamChronic Pain Learn

depressed young man sitting on the bench
When you are injured, pain is a normal response. Pain is your body’s way of warning you that you may be injured, or that you may be in a physically dangerous situation. However, the pain caused by an injury should dissipate as that injury heals.

Chronic pain syndrome (CPS) is characterized by pain that lasts beyond clinical expectations for an injury, or persistent, long-lasting pain from other sources. Addressing chronic pain begins with understanding its causes, symptoms, and potential treatment options.

Common Symptoms of Chronic Pain Syndrome

Chronic pain syndrome is a common but a very complex medical challenge. It is often difficult to diagnose, because there are many potential sources of chronic pain. In addition to physical symptoms, you may also experience psychological symptoms due to chronic pain.

Persistent Pain

Pain that persists for more than 6 months or more is typically classified as chronic pain. While pain caused by CPS may be severe, persistent mild or moderate pain is also possible. The key is that the pain is long-lasting, and disruptive.

Lingering Injuries

Injuries like broken joints, muscle tears, and ruptured ligaments cause acute pain, but are expected to heal within a certain time period. If your injury has healed but you are still experiencing pain, it may be a symptom of CPS.

Psychological Symptoms

CPS may make it difficult to work, maintain relationships, and participate in your favorite physical activities. These changes often have a negative psychological impact, and may cause anxiety or depression.

Joint and Musculoskeletal Pain

Chronic pain is not limited to one area of the body. Fibromyalgia, one common cause of chronic pain, may affect bone, muscles, ligaments, and soft tissue. Arthritis is a common cause of chronic joint pain and stiffness, especially in older patients.

Nerve Pain

If you have a neurological disorder or have experienced certain injuries, you may feel chronic pain that originates in the nerves. In addition to pain, you may also experience numbness, tingling, and weakness in the affected area.

Treatment Options for Patients with Chronic Pain Syndrome

Treating chronic pain syndrome requires an individualized approach. If you are experiencing symptoms of CPS, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor. Remember that you should always speak with your doctor about any treatment plan that may impact your health.

Cognitive Therapy – Addressing CPS may require both physical and psychological treatment. Cognitive therapy is focused on the connection between mind and body, a vital area for CPS management. Therapy is an important tool, both for managing the psychological aspect of pain response and reducing the stress caused by CPS.

Physical Therapy – Depending on the nature of your CPS, your doctor may also recommend physical therapy to manage pain. This approach, often combined with psychological therapy, is designed to address the physical aspects of CPS, and strengthen injured areas.

Exercise – In some cases, your doctor may prescribe an exercise regimen to help manage your pain, with similar goals to physical therapy. Again, it is vital that you speak with your doctor before beginning any exercise plan.

Medication – Some underlying causes of CPS may be addressed with medication, though only your doctor can make that decision. Potential medication options vary widely, depending on the cause of your CPS.

If you are experiencing long-term pain or other symptoms of CPS, it’s important to meet with your doctor. It may also help to notate your symptoms over time, so that you can provide your physician with the most accurate details possible. There is hope, and it starts with a visit to your doctor.