Published on May 12, 2022

How To Tell If Your Pain Is Chronic Pain

Women Pain

Chronic pain affects almost 50 million Americans, making it an important condition to identify and treat. According to the American Chronic Pain Association, chronic pain is, “ongoing or reoccurring pain, lasting beyond the usual course of acute illness or injury or more than three to six months, and which adversely affects the individual’s well-being.”

Chronic pain varies in intensity and frequency. Some people experience chronic pain constantly, while others only feel it in episodes. If you have consistent pain, including back pain, headaches, injury-related pain or joint pain, for three months or more, you may be suffering from chronic pain.

In addition to the exhausting physical effects that chronic pain can cause, it can also have an emotional effect that often interferes with everyday life. Anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability, restless nights of sleep and stress can all be an effect of chronic pain.

Back pain in particular is one of the most common types of pain, affecting eight out of 10 adults during their lifetime, and can be a source of chronic pain. While it may be common, there are things you can do to help prevent a back injury.

  • Frequent position changes: Sitting in one position for long periods of time increases stress on your back. Get up and move, take breaks and change positions often.
  • Pushing/pulling: Stand up straight and push whenever possible. Pushing is less stressful on your back.
  • Footwear: Wear well-supported shoes, like tennis shoes, and buy new shoes frequently.
  • Good body mechanics: Bend your knees, keep your back straight and keep the load close to your body. If you have to turn, pivot with your feet and don’t twist your back.
  • Proper posture: Stand straight and tall with your shoulders back. Keep your feet shoulder width apart and keep your head in line with your body. When sitting, keep both feet flat on the floor, relax your shoulders and make sure that your upper back and neck are comfortably straight.
  • Exercise: Exercising three to five times a week is a great way to maintain physical fitness, good strength and flexibility.

If you think you may be suffering from chronic pain, ask yourself if you’re having the following symptoms:

  • Consistently feeling any level of pain, mild to severe
  • Aching, shooting or burning types of pain
  • Extended feelings of soreness, stiffness or tightness

The first step to addressing your chronic pain is talking with your primary care provider. They can help you determine if a referral to a specialist in pain management is right for you.

MyMichigan Health’s Spine and Pain Program provides patients with safe, evidence-based, minimally-invasive pain relief solutions to allow them greater autonomy in their daily pain management. Specialty-trained, board-certified providers see patients at our offices in Midland, West Branch, Alma and Clare. Learn more at www.mymichigan.org/spineandpain.