Any number of illnesses – physical and psychological – can drive chronic pain. But finding ways to minimize it is often informed by paying attention to symptoms and triggers. Likewise, the more you know about illnesses that cause chronic pain, the better prepared to treat it. Read on for more information.
What Is Chronic Pain?
“Pain is a sign that something has happened, that something is wrong. Acute pain happens quickly and goes away when there is no cause, but chronic pain lasts longer than six months and can continue when the injury or illness has been treated.” One of the main characteristics of chronic pain is that its cause is sometimes mysterious and hard to diagnose. However, once diagnosed, it can often be treated with ketamine therapy.
Illnesses That Cause Chronic Pain
According to the American Pain Foundation, more than 40 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, some of whom never receive treatment. Some instances of chronic pain can be attributed to a particular injury that may have healed years ago, such as an injury, a severe infection, or a surgical incision whose visible appearance disappeared. But your chronic pain may also appear without an apparent cause – there is no evidence of underlying tissue damage or prior injury. Still, decades of research and caring for people experiencing chronic pain has revealed tantalizing clues any combination of the following may cause it:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome is presented by an extreme, persistent weariness that’s often paired with terrible pain. The fatigue persists for at least six months and can’t often be associated with an underlying medical problem. The symptoms worsen with physical or cerebral activity but don’t get better with rest.
- Endometriosis is “an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining your pelvis: a painful disorder that occurs when the uterine lining grows outside of the uterus,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
- Fibromyalgia is an illness that triggers pain all over your body (also known as widespread pain), sleep trouble, tiredness, and often emotional and psychological distress. If you have this illness, you could be more susceptible to pain than someone without fibromyalgia.
- People suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis experience chronic intestinal inflammation. You may have stomach cramps, diarrhea, and flatulence. Medicine and surgery could help reduce IBD episodes, sending the condition into remission.
- Interstitial cystitis is recurrent pelvic pain, pressure, or pain in the bladder and pelvis, often linked to urinary frequency (needing to go relieve yourself often) and urgency (feeling a powerful urge to go).
- Temporomandibular joint dysfunction disorders “are conditions affecting the jaw joints and surrounding muscles and ligaments. It can be caused by trauma, an improper bite, arthritis, or wear and tear. Common symptoms include jaw tenderness, headaches, earaches, and facial pain.”
- Vulvodynia is chronic vulvar pain that doesn’t have a recognizable cause. The location, steadiness, and gravity of the pain differ for everyone who experiences it. Some women get the pain in a single region of the vulva, while others may have it in many areas. The most-reported symptom is burning, but descriptions have been known to vary. According to the National Vulvodynia Association, one said her pain felt like “acid being poured on my skin,” while another depicted it as “constant knife-like pain.”
Chronic pain also can be caused by injuries, disease, and psychological factors. In addition, there is evidence suggesting that chronic pain and depression are inextricably linked.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Your primary care physician will evaluate your medical history, perform a physical exam, and assess your pain. First, you’ll be asked basic questions about the pain, such as: Where is the pain? How long has it been going on? And have you experienced pain like this in the past? A physical exam may include different tests and procedures like x-rays, an MRI or CT scan, nerve conduction tests, and blood tests. In some cases, you may be referred for a psychiatric assessment to see if there’s a psychological basis for the pain.
Diagnosis could include therapy or options like ketamine infusion.
Chronic pain is often mysterious and long-lasting, and while its root cause can be difficult to discern, it is treatable. Don’t let it control your life if you suffer from chronic pain. Diagnosing it can be difficult and time-consuming, but worthy treatment options exist for your consideration.