Vascular disease

Pain is either acute or chronic. Acute pain often fades quickly once you've given yourself time to heal, but chronic pain can last for weeks, months or even years. If you're living with chronic pain, you know how it can sideline you from the best things in life, and your primary focus is likely on finding relief as quickly as possible -- but without addressing your pain at the source, you may be opening yourself up to experiencing symptoms again in the long term. Do you know what's causing your chronic pain?

There are a variety of common causes of chronic pain, and it's important to identify the root cause so you can work on finding relief. At OAA Orthopedic Specialists, our Pain Management team would like to discuss some of the most common culprits, including arthritis, spine conditions, carpal tunnel syndrome, and unaddressed joint injuries.

  1. 1. Arthritis

    Arthritis is one of the most common causes of chronic pain in the U.S., and it can affect any joint in the body, from the hips to the fingers. Arthritis occurs when the lining of a joint becomes inflamed, which can lead to pain, stiffness, and loss of function. There are a variety of different types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis.

    Symptoms of arthritis can include swelling, stiffness, and pain, which may worsen with activity or damp weather. If you're experiencing these symptoms, it's important to see a board-certified rheumatologist who can help you treat chronic pain.

  2. 2. Spine Conditions

    The spine is one of the most common areas of the body in which to experience chronic pain, and the cause is frequently an underlying spinal condition. Common spinal conditions that result in chronic pain when unaddressed include:

    These conditions can result in back or neck pain that worsens over time and limits your ability to move around. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to seek medical attention so you can start on a treatment plan to ease your pain.

    • Spinal stenosis: This is a condition in which the spine narrows, placing pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. Symptoms can include pain, numbness, and weakness in the legs.
    • Spondylosis: This is a condition that occurs when the discs between the vertebrae of the spine start to degenerate. Symptoms can include pain and stiffness in the neck, shoulders, and lower back.
    • Osteoporosis: This is a condition marked by low bone density, which can lead to fractures. Symptoms can include back pain, loss of height, and a stooped posture.
    • Herniated discs: This occurs when the discs between the vertebrae bulge or rupture. Symptoms can include pain, numbness, and weakness in the arms and legs.
    • Spondylolisthesis: This is a condition in which one vertebra slips out of place and onto the one below it. Symptoms can include pain and stiffness in the back, legs, and buttocks.
  3. 3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

    If you experience pain, numbness, or tingling in your hands or wrists, you may have carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition is caused by compression of the median nerve, which runs through the wrist. This compression happens when the wrist bones or ligaments press down on the nerve. Carpal tunnel syndrome is common in people who do repetitive motions with their hands, such as typing or factory work.

    For many patients, treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome involves wearing a splint at night to keep the wrist in a neutral position and taking breaks throughout the day to avoid repetitive motions. If these conservative treatments don't provide relief, surgery may be an option. Carpal tunnel decompression surgery involves releasing the pressure on the median nerve by cutting the ligament that's pressing down on it. At OAA, our team of upper extremity specialists utilizes minimally invasive techniques such as arthroscopy to minimize your recovery time, cost, and hospital stay should surgery become necessary.

  4. 4. Joint Injuries

    Joint injuries that haven't healed properly can also lead to chronic pain. Even if you've had an injury that has long since healed, you may still experience pain if the joint wasn't able to properly heal in the first place. Common joint injuries include sprains and strains, which can happen when the ligaments or tendons around the joint are stretched beyond their capacity.

    When a joint is injured, it's important to rest it and ice it to reduce swelling. You should also see a doctor so they can assess the injury and develop a treatment plan. If you don't seek medical attention for your joint injury,  you may be at risk of developing arthritis or other chronic conditions.

How Is Chronic Pain Treated?

There are a variety of different treatment options to manage chronic pain, depending on the source and severity of your symptoms.

These may include:

  • Medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and nerve blockers
  • Physical therapy to improve strength and flexibility in affected areas
  • Injections to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief for persistent pain
  • Surgery to address underlying conditions or injuries

OAA Your Partner in Chronic Pain

If you're living with chronic pain, it's important to see a doctor to rule out any of these common causes. Once a diagnosis has been made, you and your doctor can work together to find a treatment plan that will help ease your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

At OAA, our board-certified, fellowship-trained Pain Management team specializes in treating chronic pain and can help you find relief from your symptoms. If you're living with chronic pain, don't suffer any longer -- call us today and let us help you get back to your life.

If you’re experiencing chronic pain and ready to find the relief you deserve, schedule your appointment with OAA today or call (610) 973-6200 for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is chronic pain syndrome?

Chronic pain syndrome is a condition in which an individual experiences persistent pain that lasts for more than six months, even after the initial injury or illness has healed.

How does chronic pain affect individuals?

Chronic pain affects individuals physically, mentally, and emotionally. It can impact daily activities, mood, sleep patterns, and overall quality of life.  

Can psychogenic factors contribute to chronic pain?

Yes, psychological factors can play a role in the development and experience of chronic pain. Conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress can make your chronic pain worse. It's important to address any underlying psychological issues in addition to physical treatment for chronic pain.

What are some risk factors for developing chronic pain?

There are a variety of factors to develop chronic pain, including spinal conditions, joint injuries, and underlying health issues. Some risk factors for developing chronic pain include age, lifestyle choices, and previous injuries or surgeries.

What are the current chronic pain treatments?

The standard treatment for chronic pain often involves a combination of medication, physical therapy, and injections. However, there are also alternative treatments such as acupuncture and chiropractic care that some individuals may find helpful in managing their symptoms.