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Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Chronic pain is common and often goes untreated, or undiagnosed. 

Are you or a loved one in the middle of a chronic pain cycle? Getting informed on pain, where it comes from, and how to treat it helps you to take positive action in getting help with different types of chronic pain.

Keep reading to learn more about chronic pain and how to cope with it. 

Types of Chronic Pain

Pain can often be misunderstood, misdiagnosed, or incorrectly diagnosed. To help us better understand the pain it is classified:

  • Neuropathic
  • Nociceptive
  • Somatic
  • Visceral
  • Psychogenic
  • Inflammatory
  • Idiopathic

These terms get used on their own, or in combination with each other. Some of them are main categories and some are subcategories.

What Chronic Pain Means

What classifies as chronic pain? Typically chronic pain is classified by the length of time that a specific pain occurs. When a person suffers from a specific pain for 12 weeks or more without treatment it is deemed chronic.

It is estimated that about 20% of people are currently suffering, or have suffered from chronic pain in the past. Living with chronic pain is very common. 

The Chronic Pain Cycle

The chronic pain cycle shows us how the body, brain, and nervous system all work together in a cycle pattern when we are going through pain chronically. When you are in pain your entire life is affected in such areas as your mood and your daily activities, which in turn sends a signal to the brain that you are not coping with the pain and it becomes a vicious cycle. 

Causes of Chronic Pain

There can be many causes of chronic pain. Some are still not fully understood, and therefore it is unknown how the pain came about which can be frustrating. Being overweight, following an injury or surgery, or because of/after an illness occurs.

Side Effects of Chronic Pain

Mental side effects show up as depression, anxiety, social anxiety, and fluctuation of mood. Pain can be a trigger for many mental health issues.

Physical side effects of chronic pain are painfully obvious to those suffering. Signs such as physical weakness, pain in other areas of the body from compensating for their chronic pain, stomach ulcers, 

Effects on daily activities may be avoiding gatherings, not participating in fun physical activities, or calling out of work. This may stem from being in physical pain or suffering from a bad mental health day because of pain.

Substance addiction can often be an effect of ongoing chronic pain that is not getting properly treated. People will use drugs and alcohol to try and numb the pain and ease the depression that they are feeling. Coping with chronic pain causes people to take drastic measures. 

Referred Pain

The term referred pain tells us that just because we feel the pain in one area, that does not mean that the cause of that pain is coming from that specific area. The nerves in your body may be sending the pain signal to a different area making you believe that the problem is not as it seems.

Radiating Pain

When radiating pain happens it means that the pain is traveling or spreading. A good example of this is sciatica where your sciatic nerve becomes pinched in your lower back but you feel the pain also shoot down your leg.


Sciatica is caused by the sciatic nerve being pinched. The sciatic nerve is a nerve that branches out and is located in the lower back, buttocks, and back of the legs. You may feel radiating sciatic pain in any of the areas where the nerves are and it is often described as shooting in an upward or downward motion.

Effective treatments of sciatica include Kyphoplasty and spinal cord stimulation. Thankfully there is a long list of options for treating chronic sciatica pain.

Back Pain

Back pain can be a broad term relating to disk issues, spine issues, muscle injury or strain, or a multitude of other sources. Typically a muscle-related pain will feel more like a burning sensation, whereas a spinal issue will be more like a shooting type of pain.


Headaches are another one of those multi-source hot spots. A chronic headache can come from pinched nerves in the neck, stiff muscles in the neck or shoulders, vitamin deficiency, stress, Or poor sleep, and lack of sleep. Treatments may include occipital nerve block or a specific type of steroid injection.


Arthritis is swelling in the joints. It can be all over the body or localized in one specific part of the body such as the hands. There are three types of arthritis that all have different causes, effects, and symptoms which are osteoarthritis (the most common), rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune disorder), and psoriatic arthritis. 

Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain is debilitating but very treatable. Chronic abdominal pain is not related to the organs or stomach issues. Treatments often include nerve blocks that stop the pain signal so that the body can heal itself.

Nerve Pain and Neuropathy

Nerves branch out all over our body and chronic pain with our nerves or damage to our nervous system is very painful. Often stemming from illness or injury nerves pain and neuropathy can cause weakness, as well as shooting pains or numbness in various parts of the body. Treatments like spinal cord stimulation or carpal tunnel injections are proven to be very effective. 

Chronic Pain Treatments

Treatment for chronic pain starts with talking to a physician who specializes in chronic pain. They will discuss your medical history as well as the type of pain you are experiencing.

A treatment could be a one-time, multi-visit, or long-lasting session that can also include things that you can do on your own in between your visits to the office until you begin to see real and lasting improvements. 

what is chronic pain

Don’t Live With Chronic Pain Any Longer

There is a treatment for all types of chronic pain. Once you start treatment you will see dramatic differences in your life.

If you are ready to ask questions or to schedule your appointment at Elite Pain and Spine Institue in Phoenix, Mesa, or East Mesa reach out to the trusted professionals who have helped so many get their life back. 

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