Home > Pain, Explained > Chronic pain management: Living with pain every day
28 million adults in the UK are affected by chronic pain.¹
Everyone suffers from pain, it’s the body’s normal reaction. But when pain lasts for longer than three to six months, and long after its cause has gone, it’s known as chronic pain. Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) is when people develop symptoms beyond pain, such as depression or anxiety, that start to interfere with their lives.
Put simply, it is pain that lasts longer than three months, despite medication or treatment. When pain signals don’t stop or seem to have no underlying cause, the term ‘chronic pain’ is used. This might be pain that comes on without any history of an injury or operation, or persistent pain that affects people living with long-term chronic conditions like diabetes, arthritis or endometriosis.
Find out more about the differences between acute and chronic pain.
Aside from the effects of the pain itself, chronic pain can have a knock-on effect on a person’s mental health and wellbeing. The body sees pain as a threat and when it’s persistent, it can make us stressed or depressed, which in turn can lead to Chronic Pain Syndrome – it’s a vicious cycle.
The symptoms of Chronic Pain Syndrome include anxiety; depression; poor sleep; lack of energy; irritability; guilt; relationship issues and loss of libido; drug or alcohol abuse; and suicidal thoughts.
Chronic pain can occur throughout the body, but some of the most common sources include:
Chronic pain from arthritis – The source of chronic pain throughout the body, arthritis – encompassing osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis – can be incredibly sore. It causes inflammation of the joints, which leads to pain and stiffness.
Chronic neck and shoulder pain – Severe pain in the shoulder or neck is usually the result of a soft tissue injury to the muscles, tendons or ligaments. But chronic pain here can have its roots in more serious conditions that involve the spinal cord, heart and lungs.
Chronic knee pain – Long-term pain, swelling and sensitivity in the knee is all too common and is usually the result of several causes. These might include conditions like arthritis, which causes inflammation, or injuries to the knee’s ligaments or cartilage.
Chronic back pain – The most common source of chronic pain in the UK is lower back pain, caused by an injury or that develops progressively due to a condition like osteoporosis, arthritis or general wear and tear.
When pain is persistent, it’s important to learn how best to live with it. Slowing down and spending weeks or months in bed may in fact cause the pain to last longer because inactivity can make muscles and joints stiffen up. On top of that, your mental health can suffer if you continue to live with chronic pain without treatment.
When trying to deal with chronic pain, doctors recognise that the best approach is a combination of the following:
As well as exercise and physical therapy mentioned above, there are other methods you can use to reduce your pain levels and stay active without the need for drugs.
Many people suffering from chronic pain find that meditation is a helpful tool. There are free guided meditation courses online that have been proven to help people cope with persistent pain.
100% drug free and available without prescription, BioWaveGO also falls into this category. Placing the electrodes at the source of your pain for a 30-minute session will actually block pain at the nerve, giving you deep relief for up to eight hours.
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