Chronic pain is a serious health condition. Like any long-term health problem, the condition often leads to complications beyond your physical symptoms, such as new or worsened depression, anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Chronic pain can make it more difficult to keep up at work, manage tasks at home and attend social gatherings, leading to problems in your relationships and financial instability. Some research suggests that the more severe your pain, the more serious these problems.
The serious consequences of chronic pain make finding effective treatment a critical goal. Unfortunately, this process is complex and uniquely personal. What works for one person's chronic low back pain may not offer any relief for your osteoarthritis, for a number of reasons. Your diagnosis, biology and personal history all play a role, and finding pain therapies that bring you adequate relief can be a lengthy effort.
Chronic pain is on the rise with an estimated 10-20% of the population reporting chronic or recurrent pain. The factors that predict the development of chronic pain following an acute episode of pain do not relate to any 'biological' factors such as findings on physical examination, or change on X-ray, but to what are termed 'psychosocial variables', such as mood, stress and the social situation in which the pain occurs. When pain persists in spite of medical treatment, as is the case in chronic pain syndromes, the issues become even more complex. People find themselves in a vicious cycle of pain, which is not solely due to the progression of the disease (the pathology in the tissues). A person who has pain, especially on movement, tends to avoid doing things that provoke their symptoms. The person may rest, but unfortunately, this is not beneficial as it leads to secondary stiffness and weakness, worsening the symptoms that the individual is trying to avoid.
Inability to function leads to a loss of role and self-esteem. Other issues then arise, which may include financial hardship and strained relationships, side effects from medications and lack of sleep. These various difficulties cause worry and low mood. Treatments may be attempted through desperation rather than effectiveness with a high risk of failure. This leads to further worsening of mood which fuels a sense of desperation.