Chronic pain – it’s complicated.
Most people think of pain as a short-lived response to an injury or illness, linked to specific tissue damage.
But for many people, pain is ongoing and often occurs without an obvious cause. For many years, sufferers of chronic pain have also faced another obstacle – being believed.
In the absence of an obvious physical source of pain, many patients have been told it’s all in their head. It is now widely recognised that pain can be a condition of its own, and that variations of chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, endometriosis and migraine have shared mechanisms of disease.
Although our understanding of chronic pain is improving, this knowledge is not always widespread through our health systems, making diagnosis and treatment difficult for many patients.
Chronic pain can initially arise through injury or infection, be triggered by autoimmune response, and be affected by a patient’s history of trauma and depression.
Worryingly, chronic pain is also emerging as a common symptom among people recovering from COVID-19. A recent study in Madrid found that 70% of patients hospitalised with the virus had persistent symptoms seven months later, and 40% of those developed skeleto-muscular pain.
Chronic pain is already a leading cause of disability around the world, one that our medical systems are ill-equipped to handle. The potential for this to be exacerbated by long COVID is a cause of concern for many doctors.
At PIM we have a particular interest in complex and chronic conditions, including support for patients with chronic pain. Contact us to find out more.