Chronic pain syndrome – symptoms, causes and other risk factors


Chronic pain syndrome is a very common problem which is one of the biggest challenges to health – care providers because of its poor response to therapy, unclear etiology and its complex natural history. Every single person experiences occasional aches and pains. The sudden pain is an important reaction of our nervous system which helps alert us to the possible injury. When the injury happens, then the pain signals travel from the injured area up our spinal cord and to our brain. The pain which you have will become less severe as your injury heals. But the chronic pain is not the same thing as typical pain. This condition is poorly defined condition. In some people who suffer from long – lasting pain, biochemical changes are triggered in their bodies which are causing them a different type of chronic pain (this type of pain is known as neuropathic pain) and this type of pain doctors find it difficult to diagnose and treat. Pain signals are somehow triggered by their nervous system and they continue to fire for months or in some cases they can last for years. Also it is possible that certain brain chemicals which suppress the pain are not working properly. Regardless of the cause, the chronic pain syndrome is affecting all aspects of your life. It is straining your relationship and also it makes it difficult to keep up with your work and your home responsibilities. Common reactions to the chronic pain syndrome over time include anxiety, depression, anger, frustration and fear [1]. These feelings can make it harder for you to manage with this condition, especially if you use drugs or alcohol to deal with the symptoms of chronic pain syndrome. This type of condition often requires both medical treatment and counseling because the chronic pain syndrome can have a wearing effect on both body and the mind. Also you should think about getting a treatment at a pain management clinic. In this clinic you may get multidisciplinary treatment from the specialists that work there.

Symptoms of chronic pain syndrome

Here are the symptoms of chronic pain syndrome:

  • Discomfort, soreness, tightness or stiffness
  • Pain that may be described as shooting, burning, aching or electrical
  • Pain that does not go away as expected after an illness or injury

But the pain that you have, can lead to other problems such as

  • Disability – this may include not being able to go to work or school or perform other daily activities
  • Other mood changes, such as hopelessness, fear, irritability, anxiety and stress [1]
  • Depression, which is common and can make your pain worse [1]
  • A weakened immune system, leading to frequent infections or illness [2]
  • Sleeplessness, often because the pain keeps you awake during the night [3]
  • Fatigue, which can cause impatience and a loss of motivation [4]

chronic pain

Causes for chronic pain syndrome

This type of pain is usually caused by an initial injury such as pulled muscle or back sprain. It is believed that the chronic pain is developing when your nerves become damaged. When there is nerve damage, then it makes your pain more intense and long – lasting. In these cases, the treatment of the underlying injury will not resolve the chronic pain. Also there are some cases when people experience chronic pain without any prior injury. The exact cause for the chronic pain without injury is not well understood. There are some cases when the chronic pain can result from an underlying health condition such as:

  • Vulvodynia
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) [5]
  • Interstitial cystitis [6]
  • Inflammatory bowel disease [7]
  • Fibromyalgia [4]
  • Endometriosis [8]
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

Types of chronic pain syndrome: Here are the most common types of chronic pain:

  • Psychogenic pain (this is a pain which is not caused by nerve damage, injury or disease)
  • Neurogenic pain (this type of chronic pain is caused by nerve damage)
  • Arthritis pain
  • Cancer pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Post – trauma pain
  • Postsurgical pain
  • Headache

There was one study which was done by the American Academy of Pain Medicine and in this is said that more than 1.5 billion people all around the world suffer from chronic pain syndrome and this is one of the most common causes for long – term disability in the United States of America and it is affecting around 100 million Americans [9].


[1] de Heer EW, Gerrits MMJG, Beekman ATF, et al. The association of depression and anxiety with pain: A study from NESDA. PLoS One. 2014;9(10):e106907.

[2] Totsch SK, Sorge RE. Immune system involvement in specific pain conditions. Molecular Pain. 2017;13:1744806917724559.

[3] Tang NKY. Insomnia co-occurring with chronic pain: Clinical features, interaction, assessments and possible interventions. Reviews in Pain. 2008;2(1):2–7.

[4] Arnold LM, Choy E, Clauw DJ, et al. Fibromyalgia and chronic pain syndromes: A white paper detailing current challenges in the field. The Clinical Journal of Pain. 2016;32(9):737–46.

[5] Furquim BD, Flamengui LMSP, Conti PCR. TMD and chronic pain: A current view. Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics. 2015;20(1):127–33.

[6] Mullins C, Bavendam T, Kirkali Z, Kusek JW. Novel research approaches for interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome: thinking beyond the bladder. Translational Andrology and Urology. 2015;4(5):524–33.

[7] Petersen MW, Schröder A, Jørgensen T, et al. Irritable bowel, chronic widespread pain, chronic fatigue and related syndromes are prevalent and highly overlapping in the general population: DanFunD. Scientific Reports. 2020;10.

[8] Bloski T, Pierson R. Endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain: Unraveling the mystery behind this complex condition. Nursing for Women’s Health. 2008;12(5):382–95.

[9] BU School of Public Health. Chronic pain and the health of populations. 2017. Retrieved from


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