Chronic Pain Explained

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What do I do if I feel Chronic pain?

Chronic Pain Explained

Chronic pain is pain that lasts beyond the expected healing period of tissue damage.

Chronic pain is common. One in 5 people experience chronic pain. People with chronic pain will face different problems and barriers that prevent them from living their normal lifestyle, and stop then from achieving their goals.

Research shows us that by addressing the many different aspects of chronic pain it can be managed long term enabling people with chronic pain to return to doing the things that are important to them.

What is Chronic Pain?

Feeling pain is a normal human experience and is a signal from our body’s pain system. The pain system involves all of our body’s systems and is a sensible and necessary system that functions to protect our bodies from perceived threat. Pain changes the way we move, think and behave, so that we take the necessary steps vital for healing and safety to occur.

Sometimes the pain system can respond and act in unusual ways that doesn’t accurately reflect what is going on in the body. Chronic pain is pain that lasts beyond the expected healing period of tissue damage or as a result of ongoing stressors on our body’s systems. This generally means that you experience pain despite having no new damage to the tissue. Your pain is real. Pain will impact your ability to carry out your normal activities, whether these are at home or work, or in social or recreational settings. More often than not our activity levels change and our body doesn’t get to move as much as it would like to.

Chronic pain can also have an impact on your thoughts and how you feel. Some people will report that they worry more and are fearful to do things in case they make their pain worse. Others feel sad and lose interest in enjoyable activities and stop doing things all together. Whilst some people push through the pain only to feel worse later on. Often the change in what we can do leads us to think about what and who we are, and not doing the things we want to do can be upsetting. Not being able to see an end to it can lead us to losing hope. The way we think and feel about our pain will have an impact on the pain intensity and how long it lasts.

Because chronic pain can have an effect on many different areas of your life the best way to manage it is to look at all the different aspects- we call this a multidisciplinary approach. Research shows us that this approach is the best way to manage chronic pain.

What Are The Features of Chronic Pain?

Physical Symptoms

  • Pain that has lasted beyond the normal healing expected of a tissue.
  • Pain can be a result of an injury or ongoing disease state in the body eg rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Pain can be constant or intermittent.
  • Pain can be felt in one or more areas of the body.
  • It can be associated with other signs such as tingling, temperature change, changes in skin color or a loss of sensation.
  • Reduction in activity level.
  • Weakness and reduced exercise tolerance.
  • Loss of energy or fatigue.

Psychological Symptoms

  • Anxiety or fear of damage when moving or experiencing pain.
  • Avoidance of activities that increase your pain or pushing through an activity despite the pain.
  • Pain can be associated with depression and/or anxiety.
  • Disrupted sleep, including difficulty falling asleep, or getting back to sleep once woken.
  • Lack of interest in usual activities.
  • Sadness, feelings of loss and loss of motivation.
  • Excessive worrying.
  • Problems with thinking, concentration, or remembering things.
  • Guilt or self-doubt about what you have done thus far or what you can do for the future.
  • Anger or irritability at what has happened, at the senselessness of it all, at what caused the event to happen, often asking “Why me?”.

What Causes Chronic Pain?

We don’t know what leads to chronic pain and why one person with the same condition as the next goes on the develop chronic pain whilst the other person’s pain diminishes with time. 

We do know that the pain system in our body is not working accurately, sending out messages of pain despite no new threat to the body. The pain system includes the nerves from the body to the brain, the brain itself and all the feedback loops involved in keeping our body in a safe and balanced state. This system is complicated and receives signals from many parts of our body and brain and each of these can be misinterpreted at many different levels. 

What is CBT?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Chronic Pain

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is considered to be one of the leading psychological treatments for Chronic Pain. All of our online courses use CBT strategies to help ease symptoms of Chronic pain. Click below to see if CBT can help you tackle your symptoms to improve the way you feel.

How to Deal with Chronic Pain

The pain system is complicated and receives signals from many parts of our body. The good news is that we can reboot these signals and teach you tools to manage your chronic pain.

  • Psychoeducation.
  • CBT.
  • Movement.
  • Pacing and activity scheduling.
  • Goal setting.
  • Getting better sleep.
  • Managing stress.
  • Relaxation and meditation.
  • Hints on communication and relationships.
  • Nutrition.
  • Medication.

Interested in learning more?

The Chronic Pain Course

Check out our practical, self-paced online course that teaches step-by-step strategies for tackling Chronic Pain.