What Is Chronic Pain and Why Is It Important?
Chronic pain is pain that lasts more than several months (variously defined as 3 to 6 months, but certainly longer than “normal healing”). It’s a very common problem. Results from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey show that:
More information About Chronic Pain
Chronic pain becomes more common as people grow older, at least in part because health problems that can cause pain, such as osteoarthritis, become more common with advancing age. Not all people with chronic pain have a physician-diagnosed health problem, but among those who do, the most frequent conditions by far are low-back pain or osteoarthritis, according to a national survey. Other common diagnoses include rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, carpal tunnel syndrome, and fibromyalgia. The annual economic cost of chronic pain in the United States, including both treatment and lost productivity, has been estimated at nearly $635 billion.
Chronic pain may result from an underlying disease or health condition, an injury, medical treatment (such as surgery), inflammation, or a problem in the nervous system (in which case it is called “neuropathic pain”), or the cause may be unknown. Pain can affect quality of life and productivity, and it may be accompanied by difficulty in moving around, disturbed sleep, anxiety, depression, and other problems.
For more information about chronic pain, visit the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
What the Science Says About Complementary Health Approaches for Chronic Pain
The scientific evidence suggests that some complementary health approaches may help people manage chronic pain.
A comprehensive description of scientific research on all the complementary approaches that have been studied for chronic pain is beyond the scope of this fact sheet. This section highlights the research status of some approaches used for common kinds of pain.
Chronic pain in general
Some recent research has looked at the effects of complementary approaches on chronic pain in general rather than on specific painful conditions.
Irritable bowel syndrome
Other types of pain
Other complementary approaches
Source URL: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/pain/chronic.htm
Source Agency: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)