What is Chronic Pain?

Learn more about what can trigger the long-term development of chronic pain

Pain acts as an alarm system within the body, triggered when sensory nerve cells, known as nociceptors, detect tissue damage and transmit information about this damage along the spinal cord to the brain.

The experience of pain is different for every person, and there are various ways to feel and describe pain, depending on how the brain interprets pain signals to the body. Pain can feel relentless, often burning and stinging, and may be felt in one area of your body, such as your back or hip, or it may be felt all over.

Pain becomes chronic when it persists for longer than six months and can often be rooted in unseen causes. Unlike acute pain, which has a specific, treatable cause, chronic pain can continue even after the injury or illness has been treated, making it more complex to treat and manage.

As one of the most common chronic conditions in the United States, approximately 1 in 5 adults experience chronic pain. While it can appear at any age, it is more prevalent in aging adults and affects women more often than men. 

Learn More About Chronic Pain

Causes of Chronic Pain

How injury or illness can trigger the change in pain signals that cause chronic pain.

Treating Chronic Pain

Treatment of chronic pain is based on the type of pain and underlying causes.

Pain from Nerve Damage

The causes and symptoms of neuropathic pain resulting from nerve damage.

Managing Chronic Pain

Most symptoms of chronic pain can be managed with a comprehensive approach.

Pain from an Injury

The causes and symptoms of nociceptive pain resulting from an injury.

Chronic Pain and Addiction

Studies show that chronic pain may lead to dependence on substances like opioids.

Additional Resources for Chronic Pain and Education for Pain Management

Dean Stroud Spine and Pain Institute at Shepherd Center

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