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header image for blog a man in a grey shirt grabs his lower back with both hands due to pain a caption reads The Side Effects of Long Term Pain

The Side Effects of Long-Term Pain

The Hidden Dangers of Ongoing Discomfort

When your aches and pains last for more than 12 weeks, they meet the definition of chronic pain. Although minor inflammation and passing tenderness are normal side effects of injury or harm, long-lasting discomfort may indicate more serious problems. Persistent irritation can also have life-changing ramifications. Here are some issues to look out for.

a woman massages her shoulder after a workout has caused her pain

The Lasting Physical Effects of Long-term Pain

Chronic pain does more than just cause irritation. In some cases, it may be associated with stiffness or inflexibility that limit your ability to move and carry out normal activities, like performing your job duties or simply going through your daily routine as usual. According to the National Institutes of Health, you may also experience reduced strength and stamina.

Long-term pain is associated with other physical problems. The nervous system may respond to persistent irritation by undergoing maladaptive structural reorganizations that result in a condition called sensitization. This form of hypersensitivity can cause your discomfort to worsen or last long after you’ve healed.

a man is in sitting front of his laptop tired and unable to focus

How Chronic Pain Impacts People Physiologically

Ongoing irritation affects the mind states of sufferers. For instance, people naturally have trouble sleeping through pain, which can lead to increased stress and exhaustion that ultimately worsen their conditions. In some cases, such as amputee patients who suffer from phantom limb syndrome, ongoing discomfort has been linked to serious depression.

Other problems may include the development of certain cognitive issues. Those who hurt constantly understandably find it difficult to focus or exercise mental recall on demand. These side effects wreak havoc on all aspects of their lives and lead to heightened stress, potential relationship problems and professional issues.

a female provider in blue scrubs helps a patient dressed in grey with her shoulder pain

How Can Pain Treatment Help?

There are many ways to treat chronic discomfort and severe irritation, even though such conditions may not be curable. Although medication is a common solution, there are many negative side effects associated with the use of pharmaceuticals such as opioids, which can be highly addictive. Corticosteroid drugs that reduce inflammation to limit irritation may contribute to high blood pressure, weight gain, heightened infection risk or osteoporosis.

Alternative treatment methods, like acupuncture, tai chi and meditation, can have positive effects alone or in conjunction with Western medicine techniques. For some sufferers, relaxation therapies and behavior modification may alleviate discomfort.

Comprehensive pain treatment regimens that include some form of self-management are also known to be highly effective at teaching people to cope. Those who train themselves to deal with their long-term pain commonly lead healthy, active lives. Their positive mental outlooks and problem-solving skills may also help them become better at responding to discomfort when it occurs.

Are you ready to learn more about your pain treatment options? Contacting a doctor at Advanced Pain Care could be the first step.