Four Steps in the Evolution of Chronic Pain

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There are four primary steps in the evolution of chronic pain:

(1) There is a potential source for pain, which may or may not be readily identifiable

  • Structural–identifiable lesion with MATCHING symptoms
  • Non-structural–inflammation or irritation of the soft tissues, which cannot be seen on a test
  • Neurophysiological Disorder (NPD)–the nervous system can spontaneously cause pain without an identifiable source.

(2) The brain becomes sensitized to the pain impulses.

(3) The nervous system memorizes the pain.

(4) Emotional factors alter the pain experience

  • Sleep
  • Anxiety
  • Anger/frustration

Listen to the Back in Control Radio podcast The Evolution of Chronic Pain