The term chronic pain is used to describe pain of long duration (three months or longer ), regardless of associated symptoms or cause. The pain may be present constantly, or may come and go over a long period. Flare-ups when the pain is more severe than normal may occur periodically, and are often unpredictable.
Back pain is the most common form of chronic pain, but other parts of the body that are often affected include the head (e.g. headache or migraine), face, legs and neck.
Chronic pain is often accompanied by fatigue, stress, tension and depression. Depending on the severity and type of pain involved, it may also impact on the sufferer’s appetite, body weight, sleeping patterns, daily activities, work, relationships and libido.
The long-term use of pain-relieving medications may leave sufferers at risk of adverse effects, and may limit their ability to develop coping skills that empower them to adjust to the pain. In addition, some painkillers become less effective when used over long periods of time.