What causes chronic pain?
That is the question, isn’t it.
If only we knew more about the cause of pain, we could understand how to treat it, right?
Is pain caused by the alignment of our joints or posture?
Lack of exercise? Or too much, or incorrect exercise?
Or what about an old injury that hasn’t healed?
And when all the tests come back clear, does it mean that the pain is all in our head?
𝗣𝗮𝗶𝗻 𝗶𝘀 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗲𝘅.
When pain is a direct and immediate result of an injury or a symptom of a problem in the body, we refer to it as “𝘢𝘤𝘶𝘵𝘦 𝘱𝘢𝘪𝘯”.
Acute pain is usually short lasting and goes away within 3 months.
Sometimes though, long after tissues have healed, pain can persist. Or even seem to come out of nowhere.
Once pain has lasted longer than months, it is referred to as 𝘤𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘯𝘪𝘤 or 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘵 pain.
There are various factors that can contribute to persistent pain, including:
Lifestyle factors (ex. exercise or
movement, nutrition, sleep)
Psychological factors (depression, anxiety, & stress)
Physiological/ biological factors
The sensitivity of your nervous system
...And the list goes on.
Think of chronic pain not as being a 𝘴𝘺𝘮𝘱𝘵𝘰𝘮 of an injury, but rather as a condition on its own, which largely involves your nervous system, and possibly also the immune and hormonal systems.
Complex, chronic pain may not respond as well to traditional approaches - which is sadly why it is so prevalent (about 1 in 5 people live with chronic pain).
As such, we need to shift our approach to managing chronic pain, and look more broadly towards which factors are most impactful in a particular individual.
There is no one size fits all approach, but there are many options and good reason to be hopeful that we can reduce pain and improve quality of life.
If you’re an osteopathic professional and want to learn about up to date, evidence-informed clinically relevant pain management, join the wait list for the Chronic Pain Management in Osteopathic Practice course.