Most pain is mercifully fleeting — like that from a sliced finger or the ache of an overworked muscle.
But for some, chronic pain is a constant companion. And that can take a toll both physically and emotionally.
"Chronic pain significantly reduces a person’s ability to perform simple things we take for granted — for example, going to the grocery store or dining out with a spouse," says Matthew Jaycox, MD, a pain medicine specialist at Rush.
What's more, chronic pain can create a vicious cycle: Constant aches can lead to isolation and depression, which can make existing pain worse.
Chronic pain generally refers to any pain that persists longer than six months and severely limits your quality of life.
"It comes in many forms, but by far the most common type we see is low back pain," says Jaycox. In fact, low back pain is the second-leading reason people miss work, behind only the common cold.
Other conditions that can trigger or cause chronic pain include the following:
"One of the great things about being at an academic medical center is having access to a variety of techniques that simply aren't practical in other settings," says Jaycox.
So in addition to medicines and physical therapy, strategies to help with pain can include special devices and emotional support:
Sign up now for free health tips and medical news.