Chronic pain syndrome (CPS) is a common problem that presents a major challenge to health-care providers because of its complex natural history, unclear etiology, and poor response to therapy. CPS is a poorly defined condition.
- Pain that does not go away as expected after an illness or injury.
- Pain that may be described as shooting, burning, aching, or electrical.
- Discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness.
- Learn deep breathing or meditation to help you relax.
- Reduce stress in your life. …
- Boost chronic pain relief with the natural endorphins from exercise.
- Cut back on alcohol, which can worsen sleep problems.
- Join a support group. …
- Don’t smoke. …
- Track your pain level and activities every day.
Pain is your body’s normal reaction to an injury or illness, a warning that something is wrong. When your body heals, you usually stop hurting.
But for many people, pain continues long after its cause is gone. When it lasts for 3 to 6 months or more, it’s called chronic pain. When you hurt day after day, it can take a toll on your emotional and physical health.
About 25% of people with chronic pain will go on to have a condition called chronic pain syndrome (CPS). That’s when people have symptoms beyond pain alone, like depression and anxiety, which interfere with their daily lives.
CPS can be hard to treat, but it’s not impossible. A mix of treatments like counseling, physical therapy, and relaxation techniques can help relieve your pain and the other symptoms that come with it.
What Causes Chronic Pain Syndrome?
Doctors don’t know exactly what causes CPS. It often starts with an injury or painful condition such as:
- Arthritis and other joint problems
- Back pain
- Muscle strains and sprains
- Repetitive stress injuries, when the same movement over and over puts strain on a body part
- Fibromyalgia, a condition that causes muscle pain throughout the body
- Nerve damage
- Lyme disease
- Broken bones
- Acid reflux or ulcers
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Endometriosis, when tissue in the uterus grows outside of it
The roots of CPS are both physical and mental. Some experts think that people with the condition have a problem with the system of nerves and glands that the body uses to handle stress. That makes them feel pain differently.
Other experts say CPS is a learned response. When you’re in pain, you can start to repeat certain behaviors. For example, you might complain about your pain, lie down to rest, use pain relievers, or take time off from work. These behaviors can act like little rewards that encourage the pain to continue, even after the original cause of the pain is gone.
CPS can affect people of all ages and both sexes, but it’s most common in women. People with major depression and other mental health conditions are more likely to get CPS.
According to the National Institutes of Health, more than one-third of all adults will experience chronic pain at some point in their lives. Chronic pain is pain that persists or returns for varying periods of time (usually longer than six months). Chronic pain often involves deep somatic and visceral tissues. The painful area can be indefinite or poorly localized, and the quality of pain may change over time.
Massage is the second most sought-after form of pain relief, after pain medication, and is a safe and effective way to relieve pain in both elderly and young populations. In fact, pain management programs at hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and other facilities are increasingly adopting massage as a tool to combat chronic pain.
Clients experiencing chronic pain should be under the care of a physician who will investigate the cause of the pain. Studies suggest that massage can relieve chronic back pain, tension, and post-traumatic headaches more effectively than other common therapies, and reduces pain and muscle spasms, such as those associated with heart bypass surgery.
Massage increases the release of endorphins, helping decrease the perception of pain and the accompanying stress, anxiety, and depression that are associated with it.
Getting through a day of chronic pain can feel overwhelming. At night, pain, and the stress related to it can keep them awake, making them less able to face the next day. Worry often accompanies chronic pain, regarding its source and what can be done to make it go away. Chronic pain can affect an individual’s ability to work, and treatment can be a financial drain. Normal activities may become difficult, and fears of dependency on others for either financial support or physical care may exacerbate feelings of stress and depression, adding to the pain.
In some cases, injury or illness also produces a pain cycle, a complicated series of events that reinforce one another, producing chronic or constant pain over a long period of time. Chronic pain is a heavy emotional weight. It is associated with a substantial amount of stress and can take a heavy toll on an individual’s emotional and physical stamina, wearing their patients.
Massage can be effective in pain management, interrupting the cycle of pain through the release of endorphins, and alleviating pain to a substantial degree. Reducing stress, promoting relaxation, and lessening the need for pharmaceutical intervention are significant benefits for clients with chronic pain, but massage may also help people learn to cope more effectively with their pain.
By treating the whole body, rather than a localized area, massage can reorient the individual, increasing awareness of the body, and helping them focus on something outside of the pain.
Chronic pain causes the muscles around any painful area to “tense up.” This action, known as “guarding,” supports and protects the damaged area. Usually, over time, as the muscles relax, the pain is relieved.
With persistent or chronic pain, muscles contract but do not release. In their contracted state, muscles can press on nerves, causing numbness, tingling, and more pain. Massage can help stretch the muscles and stimulates the nervous system, which can also help relax tense muscles. The more pain we experience, the more diminished is our capacity for any kind of movement or exercise. The cycle of pain continues when the reduction in movement decreases circulation and flexibility and increases the pain.
The cycle of pain also encourages the development of trigger points in areas with poor circulation. These points become increasingly irritated, and refer pain and tingling sensations from the muscles and connective tissues to other parts of the body. Referred pain responds well to trigger-point therapy, sustained pressure, and muscle stretching. Very sensitive trigger points can be numbed by applying ice to the area before a massage.
Massage helps chronically tight or tense muscles experience more efficient blood circulation. When muscles are tense, they receive less oxygen and are less able to carry away waste products manufactured by the body. Inflammation, as well as normal muscle function, contributes to the accumulation of waste, and can also irritate nerves in the tense area, causing pain to spread.
The cycle of pain and poor circulation can also encourage a build-up of collagen fibers, the beginnings of scar tissue, as collagen fibers “glue” the muscles into their shortened state. Massage helps to increase circulation, rehydrate, and soften the contracted muscles and fascia, helping to “unglue” the fibers to which collagen has adhered.
As massage relaxes the nervous system, blood vessels dilate, increasing blood flow, which flushes away the waste products from the muscles. As circulation is increased, healing oxygen and nutrients are directed back to the muscle tissues.
Massage helps restore normal movement by increasing circulation, releasing trigger points, removing waste products, and stretching shortened or “glued” muscles. Massage can help a person feel better, increasing their level of energy and desire for more physical activity. This enhanced feeling of well-being counteracts the effects of stress and can increase one’s awareness of how and where the body is holding tension as a result of stress.
Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the sole responsibility of the reader. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company or specific massage therapy technique, modality or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.