People often hold back from seeing a doctor about chronic pain because it can be hard to describe or tie to a specific cause. But if you're experiencing pain on a regular basis, you should not suffer alone. If not controlled, chronic pain can grow and lead to additional physical and mental problems such as depression, anxiety, drug abuse, sleeplessness, and more. You might be surprised to learn what the most common types of chronic pain are and more surprised to learn there are steps you can take to find relief.
What is chronic pain
The American Academy of Pain Medicine defines chronic pain as follows:
While acute pain is 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. Chronic pain persists. Pain signals keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, and even years. There may have been an initial mishap - sprained back, serious infection - or there may have been an ongoing cause of pain - arthritis, cancer, ear infection - but some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage. Many chronic pain conditions affect older adults.
What are the most common types of chronic pain
Back pain is by far the most common type of chronic pain that drives people to seek help. Nearly one-third of people experiencing chronic pain are feeling it in their back. The next most common types of chronic pain are headache or migraines, neck pain, and joint pain. Women are more likely to experience chronic pain than men.
These issues are the most common, but many people experience pain in other areas such as their face, abdomen, or chest. The bottom line: if you have pain that doesn't stop and is beginning to interfere with your daily life, it's time to see a doctor.