What is Chronic Pain?
There is no single, widely accepted definition of chronic or persistent pain.
The best summary definition may be “Persistent pain that lasts weeks to years”. Chronic pain is defined as pain that has lasted longer than three to six months, though some theorists and researchers have placed the transition from acute to chronic pain at 12 months. Others apply acute to pain that lasts less than 30 days, chronic to pain of more than six months duration, and subacute to pain that lasts from one to six months. There is no single, widely accepted definition of chronic or persistent pain. Most people get back to normal after pain following an injury or operation. For some people the pain carries on for longer or comes on without any history of an injury or operation.
In the sphere of many definitions, here is what the United States National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health says:
What Is Chronic Pain and Why Is It Important?
Chronic pain is pain that lasts more than several months (variously defined as 3 to 6 months, but longer than “normal healing”). It’s a very common problem. Results from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey show that:
About 25.3 million U.S. adults (11.2 percent) had pain every day for the previous 3 months.
Nearly 40 million adults (17.6 percent) had severe pain.
Individuals with severe pain had worse health, used more health care, and had more disability than those with less severe pain.” – Chronic Pain: In Depth by NIH
A person’s chronic jaw pain may be due to a combination of factors, such as genetics, arthritis, or jaw injury. Some people who have jaw pain also tend to clench or grind their teeth (bruxism), although many people habitually clench or grind their teeth and never develop TMJ disorders. It is possible to obtain jaw splints that are effective for many people without needing a prescription.
A popular alternative definition of chronic pain, involving no arbitrarily fixed duration, is “pain that extends beyond the expected period of healing”. There is little evidence for treating most types of chronic pain with opioids. An exception is chronic pain due to cancer. While they may improve pain in the short term there is no evidence of improved long term pain or functioning. Risks include overdose and addiction. In the United States about 100 million people have chronic pain, with 25% of those having more or severe chronic pain. Many of those individuals suffer from Jaw and Muscle Sprain/Strain
When treating any chronic pain, it’s important to consider first having an accurate diagnosis and the patient’s safety before using complementary health approaches. Safety depends on the specific approach, condition, area and severity of the painful condition, and on the health of the patient.
Treatment of Chronic Pain Conditions Guidelines
Across the US, health professionals and pain management organizations have issued guidelines for treating several chronic pain conditions. They are useful to establish certain complementary health approaches can be incorporated into treatment plans. Others discourage the use of certain complementary approaches.