Chronic pain is commonly defined as any pain which lasts more than 12 weeks. Whereas acute pain is the normal sensation which alerts us to an injury or illness, chronic pain is one that persists, often for months or even longer.
Chronic pain can affect as many as eight of every 10 American adults. It can be caused by a musculoskeletal injury (involving the bones, muscles, or joints), nervous system dysfunction, chronic diseases, and autoimmune disorders.
Here are some of the most common causes affecting American adults today:
According to research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, no less than 84 percent of adults in the U.S. will experience chronic back pain at some point in their life. Often occurring in the lower back, the pain may be caused by an injury or develop progressively due to arthritis, osteoporosis, or normal wear-and-tear.
Back pain has become an epidemic in the U.S. and is today a leading cause of disability and lost productivity in the workplace. Common causes of chronic back pain include:
According to research, 50 percent of the adult population will report headaches during the course of a year, while more than 90 percent will report a lifetime history of headaches.
A chronic headache is one which occurs for at least 15 days per month for no less than three consecutive months. The most common types of chronic headaches are:
Joint pain is one of the leading types of chronic pain among American adults, typically caused by injury, infection, or advancing age. According to a report from the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative, arthritis is the most common cause, affecting over 51 million Americans (or roughly one of every two adults).
Some of the more common types of chronic joint pain are:
Chronic nerve (neuropathic) pain affects one of every 10 Americans, according to a study from the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. This commonly happens when the nerves are either compressed, damaged, or exposed to drugs which strip their protective exterior coating (called the myelin sheath).
Some of the more common examples of chronic neuropathic pain are: