Chronic pain can be described as pain persisting more than 90 days, or three months. Generally speaking, the pain lasts far longer than expected. Descriptions of chronic pain vary and can be mild to severe, short-lived to long-lived, or an annoyance to debilitating. Approximately 100 million people in the United States have chronic pain. Half of those, or 50 million, people experience pain daily. Furthermore, the pain is so severe that it corresponds to a pain scale score greater than or equal to seven out of ten.
Acute pain is an alert put out by the body telling us we are injured or ill. We seek help whether it is in an emergency room, urgent care clinic, or at our primary care doctor’s office. In contrast, chronic pain is the never-ending communication of pain to the nervous system. Untreated pain has the tendency to amplify over time, which causes even more pain. The amplification of untreated pain is a result of the brain’s increased sensitivity to the continuous transmission of pain stimuli.
risks of opioid useChronic pain can be correlated with lower socioeconomic status (SES) and appears to be more common in this cross-section of society. Perhaps it can be partially explained by barriers encountered when trying to access health care, an all too common occurrence among the indigent. Chronic pain also correlates with psychiatric disorders like anxiety and major depressive disorder (MDD). The evolution of hypertension also correlates with chronic pain. Other chronic pain correlates include anger, stress, and lassitude (fatigue)