Persistent pain can have an incredibly negative effect on our overall quality of life. Whether it is due to a chronic illness, a recent injury, or an inherited genetic condition, persistent pain affects every part of our lives and most sufferers constantly seek out whatever treatments or medicines that could help them feel better.
Researchers have found that people react differently to, and experience varying levels of, persistent pain due to risk factors that are sometimes not related to the cause of pain itself. Knowing what these factors are and identifying who is at risk help doctors and pain management specialists uncover underlying causes of pain and develop better treatment plans for those experiencing it. Here are three of the most common risk factors in individuals that may cause them to experience more persistent pain.
Those who experience insomnia, inability to sleep through the night, sleep apnea, or other disruptive symptoms are more likely to experience persistent pain after an injury or illness. They are also less able to deal with the pain and seek out more medical intervention. This could be connected to their lack of restorative deep sleep, which can improve both pain symptoms and coping mechanisms.
Illness attitude can be characterized by “health anxiety” or “illness behavior.” Health anxiety is experienced by patients when they chronically worry about whether they will get sick in the future. Illness behavior occurs when patients repeatedly go to doctors or hospitals for perceived illnesses or other physical complaints. Health anxiety and illness behavior both negatively impacted an individual’s ability to deal with chronic pain. Patients who were identified as having an illness attitude experienced more persistent pain than their counterparts.
Anxiety and Depression
Those who experience chronic depression or generalized anxiety disorder are also more likely to experience persistent pain due to an illness or injury. Pain and depression tend to work together to cause a downward spiral in patients. Those who are depressed experience more pain and the more pain they experience, the more depressed they get. Anxiety can come from anticipating pain and those who are prone to anxiety disorders tend to also have fewer coping skills than those who are not.
Identifying risk factors associated with the development of persistent pain is important for pain management specialists so they can identify underlying causes and develop treatments that address both the physical pain and the factors that could be contributing to the pain in certain individuals.
If you are experiencing chronic pain and would like more information, please visit our website or contact one of our pain specialists today.