How different types of chronic pain impact health | Health


– Physical function: 32.5 (moderate)

– Pain interference: 69.3 (moderate)

– Sleep disturbance: 64.0 (moderate)

– Anxiety: 60.8 (moderate)

– Depression: 60.1 (moderate)

– Overall physical health: 31.2 (poor)

– Overall mental health: 38.3 (fair)

Heavy or high-impact chronic pain is an intense form of chronic pain that impacts 4.8% of the adult population in the United States. Those affected by this type of pain have difficulty with normal daily tasks and functions and approximately 83% of those suffering from high-impact chronic pain cannot hold down jobs. In about a third of these cases, the pain is so intense that self-care activities like washing and getting dressed become extremely difficult.

Age, ethnicity, education level, and marital status are important factors in determining the likelihood of suffering from this type of pain. Individuals with high impact chronic pain have higher levels of depression and anxiety and poorer overall mental and physical health outcomes globally than those living with regular chronic pain.

Overall, this study shows that the impact of chronic pain can diverge significantly depending on type. For instance, neck and shoulder pain caused the least physical impact of all the groups, but caused significant anxiety; while lower back pain (radiating below the knee) caused the most severe problems with physical functioning but had far less mental health impact. These results could be useful in determining highly personalized treatment for chronic pain sufferers. 

While chronic pain can be overwhelming, there are solutions to help manage it. Reducing stress with the help of meditation and relaxation-based exercises like gentle yoga and tai chi can be helpful. Mindfulness and positive thinking can also go a long way toward managing chronic pain, especially when paired with physical therapy and massages. Staying active, getting an adequate amount of sleep, and remaining connected to others are also invaluable and effective tools for dealing with chronic pain. Managing co-occurring conditions like depression and anxiety helps people gain control over their pain, and there are many therapeutic options that can ease chronic pain as well, including biofeedback, hypnosis, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

This story originally appeared on Hydragun and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.


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