by Robert J. Brownsberger, MD; Whitney James, MD; and Dorian Lange, PharmD
Pain has two general categories: acute and chronic.
Acute pain signals injury and generally resolves itself in less than 30 days as a person heals. Chronic pain refers to pain persisting longer than three months. It can last months to years. Chronic pain can be mild to severe, annoying to debilitating and continuous to intermittent.
Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) is a common problem that presents a major challenge to patients and health-care providers because of its complex nature. Approximately 35 percent of Americans have some element of CPS. Nearly 100 million people are affected directly or indirectly and are partially disabled or totally disabled due to chronic pain.
Symptoms associated with CPS include fatigue, difficulty sleeping, suppressed activity and disability. Also, mood changes such as depression, fear, hopelessness, irritability, stress and anxiety can be linked to CPS. The emotional toll it takes can make the pain worse.
The cause of CPS can be injury, infection or ongoing disease. In many cases, the cause of the pain is idiopathic, or unknown. Some of the major causes of CPS include arthritis, headache (especially migraines), low back pain, cancer, joint pain and neuropathy or nerve pain. Various musculoskeletal, neurological, urologic, gastrointestinal and reproductive disorders can contribute to or lead to CPS. Risk factors for CPS include stress, anxiety, fatigue, depression and anger.
CPS can be treated with medications, procedures, surgeries and various forms of therapy. Classes of medications used to treat CPS include over-the-counter analgesics, opioids, anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), anti-depressants and medical marijuana. Procedures used that can be extremely helpful include trigger point injections, steroid injections, facet injections, nerve blocks, intrathecal morphine pumps, radiofrequency ablations, spinal cord stimulator implants, other neuro modulatory procedures and other minimally invasive spinal procedures. Hyaluronic acid injections, platelet rich plasma (PRP), and stem-cell injections are also highly effective. Various forms of therapy include physical therapy, chiropractic, occupational, recreational and vocational.
Overall, CPS can take an extensive toll on a person’s quality of life. For more information, visit NorthernArizonaPainInstitute.com.