The Five Most Common Types of Chronic Pain

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According to the National Center for Health Statistics, pain affects more Americans than cancer, heart disease, and diabetes all combined. Approximately one out of every four Americans, which is 76.2 million people, have suffered from pain that lasts longer than 24 hours, plus millions of other suffer from acute pain.

Chronic pain is the most common cause for long-term disability and is the most common cause for people to need medical care. It is a major contributor to the cost of healthcare.

Because pain can be a chronic disease, it can be a barrier to cancer treatment and can accompany other conditions or diseases, such as traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or depression. Chronic pain is pain that lasts more than 12 weeks.

Chronic Back Pain

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s research reveals that 84% of adults in the U.S. will experience chronic back pain during their lifetime. This chronic pain usually takes place in the lower back, and the pain might be caused by the progression of arthritis or by an injury, osteoporosis, or usual wear and tear.

Back pain is considered an epidemic and has become a leading cause for disability and the loss of productivity throughout all industries. There are several common causes of chronic back pain. Here are the leading causes of chronic back pain:

  • Bulging or slipped discs, which is often caused by lifting or twisting injuries
  • Spinal stenosis, which is the narrowing of the spinal canal causing compression of nerves
  • Soft tissue damage caused by trauma and strain of back muscles, tendons, or ligaments
  • Spinal fractures
  • Structural deformities such as lordosis or scoliosis

Chronic Headaches

Research has determined that about half of adults will report suffering headaches during the year, and more than 90% of those will report having a lifetime history of headaches. Chronic headaches are headaches that occur at least 15 days per month for at least three consecutive months. There are several common causes of headaches. Here are a few causes of chronic headaches:

  • Migraines, which are caused by hormonal irregularities or nervous system triggers
  • Cluster headaches caused by blood vessels in the head enlarging
  • Tension headaches caused by fatigue, sleeping wrong, or stress
  • Eye strain headaches which are caused by straining the ocular muscles

Chronic Joint Pain

Joint pain is a leading cause of chronic pain among adults in the United States. Joint pain is usually caused by advancing age, infection, or by injury. The U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative released a report that indicated arthritis is the most common cause, and it affects more than 51 million Americans. Here are some of the most common causes of chronic joint pain:

  • Bursitis, which is caused by the fluid-filled sacs that cushion the joints swelling
  • Tendinitis, which involves inflamed joint tendons
  • Rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder that causes joint spaces to swell
  • Osteoarthritis, which usually affects larger joints and is common in those who are older

Chronic Nerve Pain

Neuropathic pain affects one out of every 10 people in the United States, according to a Mayo Clinic School of Medicine study. Nerve pain often happens from nerves being exposed to drugs that strip their protective coating, damaged or compressed. Here are some of the more common examples of chronic nerve pain include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome caused by repetitive motion
  • Sciatica, which is a shooting pain down the leg that is usually the result of nerve compression
  • Diabetic neuropathy, which occurs in the feet or hands
  • Postherpetic neuralgia, which is a chronic pain that is caused by a shingles outbreak
  • Trigeminal neuralgia, which is caused by injury to the face’s trigeminal nerve

Nociceptive Pain

Nociceptors are specialized sensory nerves, which detect painful stimuli then relay the information to the brain and spinal cord to be interpreted and to get a response. Nociceptive pain is detected in either the organs or in soft tissues. There are several kinds of nociceptive pain, and it could be somatic or visceral in nature. Somatic pain is musculoskeletal pain that is either deep or superficial, which can be dull and aching or generalized and felt over a wider part of the body. Visceral pain is an internal pain, which affects about 40% of the population at some point in their lives. Here are some causes of nociceptive pain:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Pelvic pain
  • Headaches
  • Arthritis
  • Tension headaches
  • Back pain that is not nerve-related
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Endometriosis
  • Bladder pain
  • Prostate pain

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