Persistent Pain

Persistent Pain Means Chronic Pain

Pain that lasts for more than three to six months is considered to be persistent pain. One in five people suffer from persistent pain, and more than half of these individuals may have had pain for more than 10 years. The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as “a sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such.” Persistent pain can be an invisible injury, meaning when people look at you they may not understand your pain because to them, you still look the same. This can make it very challenging to explain to family, friends or medical professionals how you are feeling. Some individuals may become even more frustrated as after having multiple tests and assessments, everything is coming back as “normal” and there isn’t an explanation for the pain. Others may have had test results explain their pain, however their pain is lasting longer than a typical healing time for that injury.

All pain is real pain, and should be treated as such. When someone experiences persistent pain, their nervous system begins to change and the system becomes more protective and sensitive, like an alarm bell that is going off too easily. Other factors have the ability to influence how much pain they feel as well (for example stress, lack of sleep, mood, negative thoughts and beliefs now can increase the experience of pain). As a result, many individuals may begin to withdraw from physical activity, social events, time with family/friends or become unable to work.

Persistent pain is a life changing condition. Rehabilitation targeted at calming the nervous system down and challenging the pain in a safe way can help people learn how to do more with pain. Our nervous system is neuroplastic, meaning it has the ability to change. It has changed in order for someone to experience persistent pain, and with guided rehabilitation it can work to change back so that you can function better with the pain.

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