Types of Chronic Pain and Their Impact

Quincy AdamChronic Pain Learn

Finding the right diagnosis is one of the most challenging parts of dealing with chronic pain. There are many potential sources of chronic pain, and patients may be affected by more than one issue at the same time. While physical causes are a major piece of the puzzle, it’s also important to look at the psychological component of your pain.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common causes of chronic pain, along with their impact on patients.

Common Causes of Chronic Pain

Persistence is one of the big keys to identifying chronic pain. Injuries like broken bones, ruptured ligaments, and strained muscles are painful for everyone, but they should also heal over time. Chronic pain may linger long after an injury has healed, and many types don’t require a specific injury at all.

Because chronic pain can be all-encompassing, it can take a heavy toll. It can lead sufferers to avoid everyday activities and reduce mobility, and it can interfere with healthy sleep patterns and cause some people to overmedicate with drugs or alcohol. Some people suffering from chronic pain may experience anxiety or depression, which can affect relationships with coworkers, loved ones and friends.


Affecting muscles, joints, and soft tissue, fibromyalgia is one of the more common causes of chronic pain. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, muscle soreness, and widespread pain. Difficulty sleeping, due to pain and soreness, is also common.

Nerve Damage

Known as neuropathic pain in the medical community, pain caused by nerve damage comes in many forms. You may experience weakness, numbness, shooting pain, or a burning sensation. Your nerves may continue to send pain signals even after an injury has healed. Neuropathic pain may be caused by injury, as well as some medical conditions, like shingles.


Your joints are an intersection of bone, muscle, and soft tissue – three of the most common areas for long-term pain. Arthritis may cause severe joint pain, making it difficult to perform even basic day-to-day activities like cooking or going for a walk. Arthritis is an umbrella term, used to describe over 100 joint disorders that impact children and adults.

Back Pain

Chronic back pain may be caused by injury, soft tissue damage, nerve damage, or structural spine issues like spinal stenosis. Like arthritis, back pain may be severe enough to keep you from your basic daily activities. If your back pain is neuropathic, you may experience pain even after an acute injury has healed.


Migraine headaches typically last from one to three days, causing pain, nausea, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. During a migraine episode, you may find it very difficult to function in areas with high light, sound, or activity. While the length of an individual migraine may be counted in days or hours, their recurring nature makes them chronic.

Musculoskeletal Pain

Fibromyalgia is the common example, but there are many types of musculoskeletal pain. The common thread is that musculoskeletal conditions affect joints, muscles, and soft tissue. In addition to pain and soreness, musculoskeletal conditions may be characterized by unusually high fatigue levels.

The list above includes some of the most common causes of chronic pain, but it is not comprehensive. There are many potential causes, and discussing your symptoms with your doctor may help you to better understand the underlying causes of your chronic muscle, joint, or nerve pain. Effective treatment starts with an accurate diagnosis.