Fax: 540-901-2599


Fax: 540-901-2599

Defining Chronic Pain

Every now and then, we experience unfortunate things that lead to bodily pain. There are days when we pull a muscle while working out, we stub our toe while walking barefoot around the house, we accidentally pound our thumb instead of the nail while building new furniture, we get random back spasms from time to time, or we sprain an ankle due to one wrong step while walking around the neighborhood. These are just a few examples of the myriad of common injuries that are definitely not fun to experience but tend to go away quickly. This is not to say that these should not be taken seriously. Any minor injury when gone untreated, has the potential to turn into something worse, but for the most part, taking the proper dose of over the counter pain relievers (like ibuprofen or acetaminophen) is deemed enough to get relief from pain caused by something like a sore neck.

But what about this term that people seem to frequently use to describe their pain called “chronic pain?” How is it different and clinically defined, such as what characteristics should be present for an injury or any type of physical pain to be considered “chronic” (i.e. length and severity of pain)?

To answer this question, it is first necessary to understand that chronic means “long-term.” Thus, chronic pain means pain that is persistent and does not just go away after a few days. The pain from whatever injury or underlying condition it came from continues to be felt for months or even years. By definition, a recent research study claimed that chronic pain is, in general, pain that lasts for a minimum of 3 months (Mills, Nicolson, & Smith, 2019).

Experiencing chronic pain is common. However, it is regarded as a highly distressing issue, which impacts the lives of those who endure it and that of society as well. Chronic pain usually occurs as a result of an injury or a disease, often arising from a series or combination of multiple events. However, it is determined as a separate condition on its own, and not just a symptom of a particular ailment. This is why chronic pain has its own medical definition. 

All that said, it is important for medical practitioners to address chronic pain. This is usually done (and done well) by identifying the causes and the effects of one’s pain. To reduce the impact of chronic pain, not only medically speaking, but also on the quality of life of an individual, it is also important that a proper treatment plan – one that takes into account the many factors that contribute to pain – is created. 

This is why in Shenandoah Pain and Palliative Care Clinic; our team aims to get to know our patients on a deeper level. Here, we believe that our patients have stories to tell and we strive to listen to them to understand the root cause of their pain, so that a customized treatment plan that our provider believes is most beneficial to the patient can be created. 



Mills, Sarah E. E., Nicolson, K. P., & Smith, B. H. (2019). Chronic pain: a review of its epidemiology and associated factors in population-based studies. British Journal of Anaesthesia., 123(2), 273-283. 

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