Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting longer than 3 months, giving otherwise adequate time for healing.
Chronic pain is not just a physical problem but can also have significant impact on wellbeing and mental health. This can vary between patients but in some individuals can lead to complete loss of independence. Almost half of those with chronic pain also suffer with depression.
1 in 4 UK adults suffer with a chronic pain syndrome.
The symptoms associated with chronic pain will depend on the underlying cause for the pain. The pain may be mild or severe and continuous or sporadic.
The 3 most common pain locations are back pain, headache, and joint pain.
Chronic pain is not only a physical problem; it often has severe effects on psychological, social and economic health.
Chronic Pain Treatment
A holistic approach is often needed to treat chronic pain conditions. Physiotherapy, modifications to work and home environment and psychological therapies are important aspects of patient care.
Medical therapy is dependent on the underlying cause of pain, as addressing the underlying cause is an important component of treatment.
For muscle and connective tissue pain simple painkillers are often first line treatment with stronger painkillers (e.g. codeine, tramadol and morphine) used in conjunction in severe pain. Some patients benefit from localised corticosteroid injections.
Neuropathic pain treatment is covered in greater detail here.
Medicinal cannabis can be considered when first line therapies have not achieved adequate symptom control.