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Chronic Pain: Symptoms and Causes

Chronic pain is a complex and challenging condition that affects more than 50 million Americans each year. While pain is a natural response to injury or illness, when it persists beyond the expected healing time, it transitions from acute to chronic — and that can significantly impact your quality of life. 

Eric Fanaee, MD, is a chronic pain specialist in Bethpage, Smithtown, and West Islip, New York, and he understands the toll that this pain takes on your body and your life.

Recognizing the symptoms and identifying common causes are the first steps toward effective management. If you or someone you know is dealing with persistent pain, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s what you need to know.

Recognizing the common symptoms of chronic pain

Acute pain is a temporary response to a specific stimulus, such as injury or illness. But chronic pain persists — often outlasting the initial injury or illness by weeks, months, or even years.

The pain can range in intensity, including sensations like:

Chronic pain can affect virtually any part of your body, and along with persistent discomfort, it may manifest through:

Impaired functionality

When pain is chronic, it can begin to interfere with your ability to perform daily activities. Simple tasks like walking, lifting, or typing may become challenging. These limits can restrict your work and your hobbies and eventually hinder your mental well-being, too.

Sleep disturbances

Pain makes it difficult to get comfortable, especially at night. People with chronic pain often struggle with sleep problems, and you might find that pain contributes to irregular sleep patterns, restless nights, or insomnia. This, in turn, contributes to chronic fatigue and exacerbates the overall impact of chronic pain.

Mood changes

Your physical health is closely linked to your emotional well-being. Chronic pain can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and frustration. Sometimes, these mood changes can create a cycle where emotional distress amplifies your perception of pain.

Decreased quality of life

It’s normal if acute pain limits your activities for a short period of time, but once you heal, you shouldn’t experience lasting ill effects on your life. However, the cumulative effect that chronic pain often has on your physical, emotional, and social health can quickly diminish your quality of life.

Understanding some possible causes of chronic pain

Chronic pain is unique to each individual, and it can be traced to any number of health conditions. However, a few common causes are the source for many people.

Injury

Injury is possibly the most obvious source of chronic pain. Traumatic injuries, such as fractures or damage to nerves, muscles, or ligaments, can result in persistent pain that far outlasts your initial healing period.

Disease

Certain diseases come with side effects that include chronic pain. For example, arthritis causes inflammation in your joints that often leads to chronic joint pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Diabetes is a metabolic condition that can cause nerve damage that’s painful, particularly in your feet or hands.

Pain conditions

Some health conditions cause pain as their primary symptom — and they often have no clear cause. Fibromyalgia is a complex pain condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tenderness in localized areas. Chronic migraines involve severe, recurrent headaches often accompanied by sensitivity to light, sound, and nausea.

Psychogenic or psychosomatic pain

Emotional factors also can contribute to the physical pain you feel. Stress, anxiety, or depression may exacerbate or even be the primary cause of chronic pain for some people.

Understanding and addressing the root cause of your chronic pain is essential for effective management. Dr. Fanaee and our team take a comprehensive approach to pain care, and we’re here to help you find a treatment plan that works.

Many people dealing with chronic pain find relief with a combination of medications, physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and psychological support. To get started on your journey to freedom from chronic pain, book an appointment online or call us at 631-265-2020.

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