Chronic pain is pain that lasts a long time or keeps coming back for months or years.
Chronic pain can happen because of a long-term disease or an injury that doesn’t heal
Sometimes your nervous system becomes more sensitive to pain signals than usual
You may have other symptoms such as feeling tired, problems sleeping, not feeling hungry, or not being interested in sex
You may also have emotional symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, or withdrawing from social activities
Doctors can treat chronic pain with medicines, physical therapy, and treatments for emotional symptoms
Chronic pain can be caused by an ongoing problem such as:
Also, if your nerves are constantly sending pain signals, sometimes that causes long-term changes in how your nerves work. These changes can make you more sensitive to pain signals. This can make existing pain seem worse and sometimes cause pain from something that isn't usually painful.
Sometimes doctors don't know what causes someone's chronic pain.
If doctors find a cause for your pain, they treat the cause.
Doctors also treat chronic pain using:
Behavioral therapy may help you function better, even if it doesn’t lessen your pain. It may include gradually going out more socially and doing more physical activities. It may also include asking your family or co-workers to avoid things that keep you focused on the pain, such as constantly asking about your health or insisting you shouldn't do chores.
Depending on how severe your pain is, medicines may include:
Your pain may vary throughout the day. Doctors may change the doses and the times you take your medicines to help with the pain.
Opioids usually treat moderate to severe pain from cancer or injuries such as a broken bone. They can have serious side effects, so your doctor may try other medicines first. If your doctor prescribes opioids, your doctor will check you often to make sure you're taking them safely. Opioids often don't work for the long term.