About Persistent, Pain

Presenting in numerous forms, Persistent Pain is typically considered to be pain that lasts for more than three months and simply means, on-going. Persistent pain occurs because of changes to the nerves or nervous system, often caused by a trauma of some description, which causes the nerves firing and signalling pain. However, there are likely to be other precipitating factors with Persistent Pain including genetics, gender and previous episodes of acute pain.  If not managed well Persistent Pain can lead to various degrees of disability.

Apart from the well-documented cost Persistent Pain has on the economy and workforce, Persistent Pain can also create an enormous expense for the individual, their family, carers and loved ones; it is rarely only a financial one. The range of pain experiences is wide and varied. An individual’s response to persistent pain reflects characteristics of the pain and the person’s thoughts and behaviour developed during the course of the illness, which are subject to positive and negative reinforcement. The daily challenges of Persistent Pain that are commonly described include decreased enjoyment of normal activities, loss of function, role change and relationship difficulties. Uncertainty about ever being pain-free or the possibility of worsening pain is accompanied by feelings of anxiety, sadness, grief and anger. For some people, the burden of pain is difficult to manage and may lead to the emergence of a mental health disorder.

Major depression is the most common mental illness associated with Persistent Pain. High rates of generalised anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and substance misuse have also been described. The lifetime prevalence of major depression in Australia is 11.6%, but it is 1.6 times higher in those reporting arthritis. In Canada, the prevalence of depression is three times greater in those with chronic back pain. In patients with Persistent Pain presenting for treatment, the prevalence of major depression is 30%–40%. [SOURCE]