Chronic pain is any type of pain that is persistent, lasting weeks, months, even years. Pain can be experienced when nerve receptors in the body perceive stimuli that is in some way problematic to your health. The nerves send signals to the brain detailing what the perceived issue might be. The brain then responds by sending physical sensations to the affected site. We perceive and feel these signals as pain. Our brains send those pain signals as means to promote a behavioral response.
Most of the time, that intended response is for us to change a behavior that may be influencing the harmful activity. For instance, if you turn on the shower and jump right in while the water is steaming hot, the pain you feel is meant to influence your behavior. In this case, the intended behavioral response would be to turn the water temperature down so it doesn’t burn your skin.
The above description details a type of acute or surface pain that usually is instantaneous, such as burning your skin or suffering a scrape or cut. These types of injuries although painful, will heal themselves relatively quickly with less and less pain after initial disturbance. But chronic pain is different in that it is continuous and or reoccurring. Therefore, chronic pain requires a different approach to manage.
For example, when you break a bone, the initial pain you feel can vary depending on how much adrenaline your body produces at the time of the break. But once you go to the hospital and the broken bone is reset or mended, you may still feel pain. Even after the bone is completely healed you may still suffer recurring pain for a multitude of reasons. This is considered chronic pain and there could be many reasons behind it.
Causes of Chronic Pain
It can be difficult to pin-point exact causes of chronic pain because there can be so many contributing factors and the human body is incredibly complex.
Our bodies are made of 11 organ systems with hundreds of thousands of corresponding, moving parts and trillions of cells, all working together. As the body tries to heal itself, multiple factors come into play.
There can be instances where not everything is working together and this can interrupt, slow or even hinder the healing process.
In the case of a broken bone, we must understand that bones have attached ligaments, tissues, and muscles. All these corresponding systems will be affected in some way during healing. For example, the formation of scar tissue, permanent nerve damage and lack of muscle movement can all cause continuous disharmony within the body and lead to chronic pain.
Nerve damage especially can attribute to chronic pain. Information found on the American Chronic Pain Association website says that damage to tissues and nerve fibers themselves, can lead to dysfunctional nerve behavior at both the site of the injury and surrounding areas. This could include injured nerves that are malfunctioning and may be sending incorrect signals to pain centers.
The examples mentioned in this blog barely scratch the surface of what it means to suffer from chronic pain. There is much more to be covered. We'll be publishing more on this subject in the near future. So stay tuned!