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Chronic Pain

What Is Chronic Pain?

Be it back pain, headaches, joint problems, or full-blown fibromyalgia, chronic pain can persist. For many people, there is no end in sight and the pain may even derail employment and relationships, setting one back for years. Some 30 million Americans suffer from some form of chronic condition, which is influenced by many factors, including emotions and memory.

When an injury is suffered, pain sensors light up, sending messages via electrical signal to the brain. Normal pain, as in a headache, can be relieved by a few aspirin. But chronic pain is something different; the brain continues to receive pain signals long after it is initiated.

Pain from a chronic condition can range from a dull ache to throbbing agony. For those who are lucky, it will end within months, but for others, chronic pain can go on indefinitely. Other symptoms may include exhaustion, poor sleep, mood swings, or having no energy whatsoever.

Keeping Chronic Pain at Bay

Chronic pain can also lead to chronic pain syndrome, where symptoms go beyond the pain itself, and lead to the development of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, among others. There are ways to manage the symptoms of chronic pain syndrome. A good first step is learning to breathe correctly—deep breathing from the core is always better than taking shallow breaths. Deep breathing and a meditation practice can help reduce any symptoms of stress that may be exacerbating pain. To further manage pain, it also helps to not smoke, limit alcohol, practice good sleep hygiene, and eat healthfully, and exercise some self-compassion.

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