What is chronic pain? - Brian Barr
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What is chronic pain?

Chronic or persistent pain is pain that carries on for longer than 12 weeks despite medication or treatment, and can often persist for months or longer. Especially after an injury, such as a road accident or fall, long after the initial physical damage has healed, the pain lingers on with no obvious cause.

This is opposite to more common acute pain that lets you know that your body is injured. This type of pain usually doesn’t last long and should go away as your body heals.


What causes chronic pain?

One of the most common triggers of chronic pain disorder is an injury, however there are sometimes no identifiable trigger to the pain which can be very hard for patients and can result in a lack of understanding and compassion from their friends, family and sometimes even their doctors.

  • Injury – Chronic pain is estimated to affect 20% of adults and can be caused by a musculoskeletal injury (involving the bones, muscles, or joints), often through no fault of your own, for example caused by a road accident or a fall. In some circumstances, confusingly, the onset of chronic pain syndrome does not begin until sometime after the injury has occurred.
  • Nervous system dysfunction, chronic diseases, and autoimmune disorders – In some cases, chronic pain disorder is linked to a known condition; this may not make it any easier to bear but it can be reassuring to know the cause.
  • No identifiable trigger – There are a number of conditions where there’s no obvious trigger or cause, and pain itself is the primary presenting symptom (rather than accompanying restricted movement as in back pain, for example). For these individuals, diagnosis can be rather more convoluted, with no tests or investigations which can provide an answer. In many cases it’s simply diagnosis by exclusion; ruling out all other possible causes and making a clinical judgement based on presenting symptoms.


Common examples of chronic pain include:

  • frequent headaches
  • nerve damage pain
  • low back pain
  • arthritis pain
  • fibromyalgia pain
  • Post Whiplash Injury Syndrome
  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

The pain can be described as:

  • a dull ache
  • soreness
  • stiffness
  • stinging
  • squeezing
  • throbbing
  • burning
  • shooting

Additionally, people with chronic pain often have other symptoms such as feeling tired, having trouble sleeping, or mood changes. The pain itself often leads to other symptoms including low self-esteem, anger, depression, anxiety, or frustration, therefore it is important to try and get answers to your chronic pain syndrome to be able to manage it.


Living with chronic pain

Chronic pain cannot be prevented and there is often nothing you can do to rid yourself of the pain, however there are many treatments available that can reduce how much pain you have and how often it occurs, allowing you to control and manage the chronic pain.

Managing and making changes to your lifestyle are an important part of treatment for chronic pain. This includes getting regular sleep at night, not smoking, eating a healthy diet, exercising moderately every day, and taking care of yourself.

Living with chronic pain syndrome can be exhausting and completely dominate each and every day so managing it effectively is a priority.



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 (www.brianbarr.co.uk) 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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Headache, toothache and backache are common pains that can cause annoyance for a short period of time. But what if there was little prospect of the pain subsiding and that instead of gaining relief, you would have to battle the unpleasant sensation every day?

That’s the reality of life for those who suffer from chronic pain syndrome.

Incapacitating and debilitating, chronic pain disorder can appear as a result of a number of different causes, but the end result is the same – a never-ending battle against what can be a deeply distressing condition.

The definition of chronic pain disorder

There’s no universal definition of chronic pain syndrome, but it’s often described as pain that has persisted for longer than 12 weeks or beyond what would be expected to have been the normal healing period.

Chronic pain syndrome is an umbrella term used to capture long-term pain which arises from a variety of sources, being caused by both known and unknown triggers.

In some cases, the pain can be attributed to known causes, such as nerve pain related to diabetes or the musculoskeletal pain associated with osteoarthritis.

The pain may be related to something which was been understandable at first, such as post-operative pain, but has now extended beyond what would normally be expected, with no obvious cause creating the persisting discomfort.

There’s also pain which arises out of the blue, and presents with pain as the primary symptom, rather than tagging along as a complication of another condition. These pain syndromes are complex and extremely difficult to treat, with medical science not yet properly equipped to either diagnose or manage the conditions effectively.

A debilitating condition

The degree of pain being suffered may fluctuate on a daily basis, or it may be more constant.
Some individuals have good days and bad days, often triggering a bad day by overdoing things on a day when they feel better!

There are lots of ways pain can be managed, with varying degrees of success, but at times the treatment itself can cause unwanted symptoms too, such as nausea, dizziness and drowsiness.

Therefore both the pain, and sometimes the treatments too, can result in a condition which is extremely debilitating, impacting on an individual’s ability to function.

Pain is exhausting to deal with and managing it on a long-term basis is hard for an individual to have to face. Fatigue, emotional distress and depression therefore often accompany chronic pain disorder, as the person battles to constantly deal with their symptoms.

Types of pain

As can be seen from the information above, there are lots of different possible causes for pain, but it’s even more complicated than that. There are many different categories and types of pain, and it’s essential to understand the nature of the pain in order to treat it effectively.
Neuropathic pain relates to the nerves, with pressure being put on one or a group of nerves, which in turn sends pain messages to the brain.

Nociceptive pain describes tissue damage and inflammation, such as being kicked or having a swollen knee.

Neuropathic and nociceptive are two of the main categories of pain but there are many others too.

Idiopathic pain is one which has persisted for a period exceeding six months and for which doctors can find no cause.

Allodynia is a symptom which can often arise in conditions such as fibromyalgia and Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and refers to the sensation of pain being caused by stimuli which wouldn’t normally be painful.

Pain normally arises in the body as a result of a warning system designed to protect against harm, alerting to the presence of something which needs to be dealt with. Although the sensation is unpleasant, acute pain is useful because it serves a purpose. The signals travel through the special nerve fibres to the brain where transmitters ensure the pain message arrives at the right destination.
Chronic pain is rather different and appears to be caused by what can best be described as a short circuit in the body’s wiring. Pain signals are triggered and sent through the fibres for no apparent reason, with transmitters in the brain helping to amplify the effect.
As the pain signals pass through the emotion and mood centres in the brain, there’s an interaction with low mood somehow worsening the signals and creating more transmitters to pass the message along.

Chronic pain disorder, therefore, arises in the body but can be worsened by transmitters in the brain, including those responsible for mood and emotions, creating a very undesirable result.

Unlike acute pain, chronic pain signals serve no useful purpose and rather than alerting to a danger appear to simply be a malfunction in the bodily system. Unfortunately, as yet, doctors are not able to rectify the “short circuit” and are limited to simply trying to manage the symptoms, hoping they will ultimately burn out and disappear.

DISCLAIMER: The above information should not be used to substitute for medical advice and is provided for the purposes of guidance only. If you are suffering from any of the symptoms or conditions described, medical attention from a qualified professional should be sought immediately.

Click here to understand what causes chronic pain syndrome.

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