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What is a Chronic Pain Disorder?

Lainie Petersen
By Lainie Petersen
Updated May 17, 2024
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A chronic pain disorder is a condition in which someone experiences ongoing pain for a significant amount of time. In some cases, a chronic pain disorder develops after an illness or injury, while in other cases it is more difficult to be able to point to an actual cause of the pain. In some cases, medical professionals describe the symptoms of chronic pain as belonging to specific medical conditions such as fibromyalgia or chronic pain syndrome.

When an individual experiences some type of physical trauma, lingering pain is not unusual as the body heals. In some cases, however, a person who appears to have healed from an injury may continue to experience pain at, or even beyond, the injury or trauma site. In such cases, it can be difficult for doctors to determine why the pain still occurs or to develop a strategy for treating the pain.

Likewise, there are several identifiable medical conditions that can cause their sufferers to develop a chronic pain disorder. Arthritis, endometriosis, and other conditions can create significant and ongoing pain responses in sufferers. On the other hand, there are some individuals who legitimately experience chronic pain, but for which medical professionals cannot identify the cause. Some controversy has been generated in both the medical community and in mainstream media about the validity of some chronic pain disorders, with some arguing that these disorders are psychosomatic in nature, while others believe that they have an organic, but as of yet undiscovered, cause.

Regardless of the source of chronic pain, those who live with chronic pain disorder can find their experience to be extremely frustrating, particularly if there is no physical explanation for their discomfort. Some researchers have shown that chronic pain disorder can result in symptoms of depression, irritability, and low libido. Treatment for chronic pain disorder often includes supportive mental health counseling to assist victims with managing the social and emotional consequences of chronic pain.

Treatment for chronic pain disorder varies. If a physical source of pain is identified, health care workers often work to treat both the cause of the pain as well as the pain symptoms. In cases where the cause of pain is unknown, healthc are professionals may try different approaches, including medications, electric stimulation, and physical therapy. In some cases, alternative medicine approaches may also be attempted, including massage, acupuncture, and biofeedback. Victims of a chronic pain disorder may find more appropriate and sympathetic care at clinics dedicated to pain management and treatment.

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