How chronic pain can increase stress levels - Brian Barr
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How chronic pain can increase stress levels

Chronic pain syndrome is often explained as pain that has persisted for longer than 12 weeks, or beyond what would be expected to have been a normal healing period.

Everyone has suffered pain at some point in their lives, whether it’s an excruciating headache, backache or toothache. Whatever the cause, pain can take the joy out of everyday life. Therefore if pain is a permanent feature it can have a huge impact on daily life, with both physical and mental consequences.


Chronic pain disorder treatment


Chronic pain is treated in various ways as there are so many varying symptoms. Often it is a case of trying to manage the symptoms rather than offering an effective cure, especially with musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis and back pain.

Conditions such as Fibromyalgia and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome are still sometimes met with scepticism and the protocols for treating the conditions aren’t as well established as other diseases. For any kind of chronic pain, the overall treatment can depend heavily on the medical team, with far more disparity in the regimes than in other areas of medicine.


Chronic pain and mental health


For those with severe chronic pain, it can be difficult to get the degree of suffering taken seriously, with sufferers often being labelled with being overly-sensitive, or even worse, exaggerating their symptoms.

It’s also important to understand that pain rarely occurs in isolation. Other symptoms can include sleep difficulties, fatigue, lethargy, muscular aches, reduced stamina and mood changes such as depression and anxiety.

It is not surprising therefore that many people suffer from increased stress due to both the symptoms of chronic pain and the lack of understanding of the condition by those around them. Personal relationships, work and family life can all be adversely affected.


Stress levels and chronic pain


Most people experience some level of stress on a daily basis, whether this is due to a demanding job, relationship issues, or merely the pressures of daily life. And even more so in the past 18 months with reports showing that adults have had the highest stress levels since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or physical pressure. Stress and chronic pain have a complex relationship. Chronic pain activates the stress response, even when there is no danger or ongoing harm. People with chronic pain are more likely to experience the stress response because of their pain, as the “fight or flight” response is an inbuilt biological response.


Stress symptoms


Whist some day-to-day stress is normal, chronic stress can have a negative impact on your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It is useful to understand how to spot the signs and symptoms that you’re under too much stress, such as:

  • pain or tension in your head, chest, stomach, or muscles,
  • digestive problems, including diarrhoea and constipation, or nausea and vomiting,
  • reproductive issues (both male and female), and
  • changes to your heart rate and blood pressure.

As well as physical signs it is important to be aware of any psychological or emotional signs of stress such as:

  • depression or anxiety
  • anger, irritability, or restlessness
  • feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or unfocused
  • trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • racing thoughts or constant worry
  • problems with your memory or concentration
  • making bad decisions

Stress can make chronic pain worse. It causes muscles to tense or spasm, which increases pain and when you feel stressed, levels of the hormone cortisol rise, often causing inflammation and pain over time. It can be difficult to deal with chronic pain, but finding a way to manage stress, whether through exercise, mediation, or acceptance, can make a big difference to your daily life.



If you are suffering from fibromyalgia, CRPS, or any chronic pain condition as a result of an accident that was not your fault, and even if you have an existing claim, get in touch with Brian Barr Solicitors to see if we can assist. It is simple and hassle free to move your claim to Brian Barr Solicitors who are experts in dealing with chronic pain litigation. Call us today on 0161 737 9248 or visit our website ( to find out more.


We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. The blog is for information purposes only as we are not medical professionals. We do not endorse any medical advice provided and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider before any changes to treatment and / or management of your condition is undertaken.

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