3 COMMON CAUSES OF CHRONIC PAIN

Chronic pain is complex. Typically there’s not just one contributing factor. It’s important to identify and recognise if any of all of these three common causes are a part of your chronic pain.

BIOLOGICAL

This is the simplest one for most of us to understand. If there was an injury, or tissue trauma, nerves in that area will send information to the brain about what happened. Pressure, temperature, stress, strain, inflammation, etc. The brain interprets that information, and often we then experience pain.

Pain is a useful response. It can stop us from continuing to injure ourselves. It can prompt us to get away from what is harming us.

However, in many cases of chronic pain, the information our nerves are sending to the brain, or the way in which the brain is interpreting that information, becomes misaligned with what is actually going on in our tissues. It may be months after the actually injury has healed, but the area still causes us pain.

PSYCHOLOGICAL

Our emotional reactions to pain contribute to, and in some cases can cause, chronic pain. Since pain is interpreted by the brain (and isn’t always an accurate representation of actual tissue damage or injury), emotional stimulus is also input that gets taken into account.

Stress and catastrophising contribute to hypersensitivity and serve to “justify” the brain’s interpretation, or cause for continued alarm.

Knowing about how pain works, and having realistic expectations, is one strategy in managing the intensity or frequency of chronic pain symptoms.

SOCIAL

We are undeniably social creatures. Our environment, culture, and social expectations influence our response to chronic pain.

Social contexts also shape and define the strategies we use to cope with pain as well, such as having a support network or access to information and tools.

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