Common Health Problems  »  General Health Conditions


Treatment depends on the cause and type of pain and the person’s response to it. The first step is to find the cause. Early treatment for some causes, such as shingles, can prevent or lessen chronic pain. Treatment for chronic pain includes:

  1. Self-care measures.

  2. Medications. These include over-the-counter and prescribed pain medicines, antidepressants, and medications to treat the illness that causes the pain.

  3. Acupuncture.

  4. Meditation. Yoga. Massage therapy.

  5. Brain or local electrical stimulation.

  6. Physical and occupational therapy.

  7. Counseling. Behavior changes.

  8. Hypnosis.

  9. Biofeedback.

  10. Surgery.

Chronic pain is pain that persists. It can last for weeks, months, or even years.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms vary due to the cause of the pain, the kind of pain, how severe it is, and the person’s response to it. With the physical feeling of pain, symptoms often include:

  1. Anxiety.

  2. Depression.

  3. Fatigue.

  4. Irritability.

  5. Sleep problems.

  6. Stress.

Chronic pain can cause a person to be less active or not active at all. It can overwhelm a person’s life.


Common causes of chronic pain include:

  1. Arthritis.

  2. Fibromyalgia.

  3. Headaches.

  4. Low back pain.

  5. Chronic illnesses, such as cancer.

  6. Damage to the nervous system. An infection, injury, or chronic disease, such as diabetes can cause this.

  7. Nervous system disorders. One is trigeminal neuralgia. This affects a large nerve in the head that sends impulses from areas of the face to the brain. With this, a sudden and severe pain is felt on one side of the cheek or jaw. Another one is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). This can occur after having shingles.

Often, more than one factor causes chronic pain. Sometimes, the cause is not found.

Self-Care / Prevention

  1. Get regular exercise. Follow your doctor’s and/or physical therapist’s advice. Aerobic exercise helps your body release endorphins. These are natural pain relievers.

  2. Maintain good health habits. Eat well, get regular sleep, etc.

  3. Take pain medication as prescribed by your doctor.

  4. Practice relaxation exercises. (See Manage Stress).

  5. Keep a pain log.

  6. -Record when, where, and how often you have pain.

  7. -Describe the type of pain and how intense it is.

  8. -List what makes the pain better or worse.

  9. -Discuss what you found out with your doctor or pain specialist.

  10. Try to keep a positive outlook. Accept that life is not “pain-free.” Focus on being in control of your pain. Alter activities that cause or increase the pain. Use aids to help you reach items, bathe, do chores, etc.

  11. Join a support group for persons with chronic pain.

Questions to Ask

Does pain keep you from doing daily activities or getting proper sleep?

Does prescribed treatment for chronic pain not work?


American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA)


American Pain Foundation

888.615.PAIN (7246)