What is Chronic Pain? 

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What is Chronic Pain? 

chronic painIntroduction 

While acute pains are a normal sensation triggered in the nervous system to alert you to possible injury and the need to take care of yourself, chronic pain is different. 

These pains persist. 

Pains keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, even years. There may have been an initial mishap -- sprained back, serious infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of different pains -- arthritis, cancer, ear infection, but some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage. 

Many pains affect older adults. Common pains include headache, low back pains, cancer pains, arthritis pains, neurogenic pains (pains resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves or to the central nervous system itself), psychogenic pains (pains not due to past disease or injury or any visible sign of damage inside or outside the nervous system). 

Is there any treatment? 

Medications, acupuncture, local electrical stimulation, and brain stimulation, as well as surgery, are some treatments for these kind of pains. Some physicians use placebos, which in some cases has resulted in a lessening or elimination of pains. Psychotherapy, relaxation and medication therapies, biofeedback, and behavior modification may also be employed to treat chronic pain. 

What is the prognosis? 

Many people with this chronic pain can be helped if they understand all the causes of the pains and the many and varied steps that can be taken to undo what chronic pain has done. Scientists believe that advances in neuroscience will lead to more and better treatments for chronic pain in the years to come. 

What research is being done? 

Clinical investigators have tested these type of patients and found that they often have lower-than-normal levels of endorphins in their spinal fluid. Investigations of acupuncture include wiring the needles to stimulate nerve endings electrically (electroacupuncture), which some researchers believe activates endorphin systems. 

Other experiments with acupuncture have shown that there are higher levels of endorphins in cerebrospinal fluid following acupuncture. Investigators are studying the effect of stress on the experience of chronic pain. 

Chemists are synthesizing new analgesics and discovering painkilling virtues in drugs not normally prescribed for pains. 


American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA) P.O. Box 850 Rocklin, CA 95677-0850 ACPA@pacbell.net http://www.theacpa.org/ Tel: 916-632-0922 Fax: 916-632-3208 

American Council for Headache Education 19 Mantua Road Mt. Royal, NJ 08061 achehq@talley.com http://www.achenet.org/ Tel: 856-423-0258 800-255-ACHE (255-2243) Fax: 856-423-0082 

National Headache Foundation 428 West St. James Place 2nd Floor Chicago, IL 60614-2750 info@headaches.org http://www.headaches.org/ Tel: 773-388-6399 888-NHF-5552 (643-5552) Fax: 773-525-7357 

National Foundation for the Treatment of Pains 1330 Skyline Drive #21 Monterey, CA 93940 mgordon@mbay.net http://www.paincare.org/ Tel: 831-655-8812 Fax: 831-655-2823

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© Anthony George 2005 What is Chronic Pain?