Several conditions and factors can cause chronic pain. Usually, these are conditions that accompany normal aging, which affect bones and joints. The top three are osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia. Other common causes are nerve damage and injuries that fail to heal properly.
Individuals with fibromyalgia experience unexplained pain in almost every part of their bodies. Doctors and scientists are still trying to figure out what causes fibromyalgia. Currently, scientists think a part of the condition comes from an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. They believe the imbalances play a critical role. Fibromyalgia can create:
Osteoarthritis causes severe sporadic or non-stop aches and pain in the knees, hips, spine, and feet. Associated symptoms include joint stiffness, swelling, and limited joint mobility. Individuals with osteoarthritis could have some pain throughout their lives. According to the CDC, around fifteen million adults with arthritis have severe pain in their joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis causes continual aching that affects multiple joints. The hands, wrists, and knees are the most affected joints. Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis can present alternate symptoms, like joint stiffness, swelling, and fever.
Multiple sclerosis is a disease of the brain and the spinal cord. What happens is the immune system targets and damages the protective covering of the nerves themselves. The brain can’t properly and effectively communicate with the body. Multiple sclerosis causes pain in the legs, feet, arms, and hands. Associated symptoms include burning, prickling, or stabbing pain just about every day.
Sciatica can cause mild to sharp, electrical burning pain that travels from the lower back through the buttocks to the back of the leg and even into the foot. Chronic sciatica lasts for three months or more. The condition is more common in adults age 40 and older.
Carpal tunnel syndrome causes pain and numbness in the:
Common causes include:
Around half of the cases involving chronic pain are linked to physical trauma and injury. Individuals hospitalized after a serious injury often report chronic pain symptoms within the first year. Scientists are still unsure of how injuries lead to chronic pain. They believe several factors increase the risk. These include:
Individuals that have sustained multiple injuries are higher risk for chronic pain.
One of the most common causes of chronic back pain. The lower back is the area likely to be affected. Certain types of chronic pain can have more than one cause. For example, general back pain could be caused by a single factor or a combination of factors like:
More than half of combat-related injuries are the result of explosions, from landmines, and shrapnel. Nearly all injured soldiers have to deal with some type of pain and many have a traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury can cause chronic headaches. Delayed treatment and repeated injuries in injured soldiers make up for most chronic pain cases.
Sports injuries and chronic pain is nothing new. Studies found that 1 in 2 football players deal with chronic pain in their retirement. This along with sleep problems and mild-severe depression. Both can contribute to chronic pain. Athletes are continuously exposed to high-risk injury situations. Having the pressure of performing optimally and winning can take a toll on an athlete’s health.
Obesity does not directly cause chronic pain, but it does raise the risk. Around 40% of individuals that are obese also experience mild to severe chronic pain. Plus, individuals that are severely overweight are more likely to develop a condition that can cause chronic pain like diabetes, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.
The source of chronic pain can be very complex. It can start with an injury or illness and develop slowly without the individual realizing it until it has become a full-blown chronic condition. This fact alone makes recommending a single course of treatment risky and is why health care providers recommend a number of different types of treatment options.
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Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation as to how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900. The provider(s) Licensed in Texas& New Mexico*
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Injury, Trauma & Spinal Rehabilitation Specialist