Chronic pain symptoms will vary from person to person, depending on the condition each person has and how he or she responds to that condition. For example, two people may be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and, while both may have similar symptoms, each may also experience different symptoms of the disease. It may sound condescending, but perhaps the best way to describe chronic pain symptoms is pain anywhere that lasts more than three months. In the case of chronic pain syndrome, symptoms of pain are just one of a number of complex factors that make it a ‘syndrome’.
The thing about pain is that it is a very personal experience. In the medical world, pain is called a ‘subjective symptom’. Everyone feels pain in different ways. Everyone responds to their pain in different ways. And no one really understands what the pain sufferer is going through. Pain can be a very lonely experience. Sadly, many who suffer with a lifetime of chronic pain end up spending a lot of time alone. People avoid them, perhaps because they feel helpless when around chronic pain victims.
Location of Chronic Pain Symptoms
The location of chronic pain is also be dependent on the condition or disease process causing the pain. In the case of fibromyalgia, the pain can be all over or it can move from day to day or even hour to hour. In the case of chronic back pain, the pain will be located in the back primarily. Chronic back pain can lead to other locations of pain as you shift and adjust your body mechanics in order to lessen the pain. For example, if you have suffered with chronic back pain but still need to work at a job where you need to walk a lot, you may develop hip joint pain in one side of your body as you adjust your posture to minimize the pain as you walk.
Emotions Effect on Chronic Pain Symptoms
It is well-known and widely accepted that chronic pain sufferers tend to develop depression. However, a recent study showed that emotions may play a huge role in why some people suffer with chronic pain to begin with.
The emotional state of the brain can explain why different individuals do not respond the same way to similar injuries, say scientists.
Some recover fully while others remain in constant pain.
In this study, brain scans actually yielded evidence on how chronic pain results as an emotional response to an injury. Lead scientist Professor Vania Apakarian, of the Northwestern University in Chicago commented:
‘The injury itself is not enough to explain the ongoing pain. It has to do with the injury combined with the state of the brain. The more emotionally the brain reacted to the initial injury, the more likely it was that pain will persist after the injury has healed.”
The study involved 40 volunteer participants each of whom had back pain that lasted one to four months. Over the year, four brain scans were done on each volunteer.
The brain scans allowed the researchers to study the interaction between two brain regions- the frontal cortex and the nucleus accumbens. The frontal cortex is the area of emotions and the nucleus accumbens teaches the rest of the brain how to measure and react to the outside world.
The results were amazing in that it was possible to predict with an 85% accuracy those who would go on to develop chronic pain.
Professor Apakarian summarized:
‘It may be that these sections of the brain are more excited to begin with in certain individuals, or there may be genetic and environmental influences that predispose these brain regions to interact at an excitable level.’