What is Chronic Pain?

Pain management KnoxvilleWhen somebody feels pain, it is more often than not a symptom of an illness or injury. The onset of this pain is usually sudden, and it serves as a way to draw attention to a problem, thus urging the patient to address the situation. The solution can be as simple as reminding you to take your hand away from a hot stove, or more complex like letting you know to seek medical attention. This sudden onset pain is known as acute pain, and it is usually reasonably short lived:  once the patient addresses the problem, the pain subsides.

However, some people suffer from longer lasting pain that requires the help of pain specialists. This is chronic pain, and it can persist for periods of 6 months or more. Chronic pain usually comes from a long-term illness or injury that has caused damage to the body. Statistics fluctuate, but estimates suggest between 11 and 40 percent of Americans are living with chronic pain.

Chronic pain can affect all areas of the patient’s life. It interferes with their ability to work, sleep, and enjoy recreational activities. It can even cause issues with families and other relationships. That is why it is so important for people living with chronic pain to have pain management in place to try and improve their quality of life. Pain specialists are experts in dealing with chronic pain.

Common Sources of Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can be a result of a wide range of conditions and injuries. Just some of the sources that pain specialists encounter when working with patients living with chronic pain include:

  • Injuries
  • Headaches (e.g., Migraine, Cluster Headaches)
  • Back Pain
  • Arthritis
  • Tendinitis
  • Overuse Injuries (e.g., Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Repetitive Strain)
  • Autoimmune Disorders (e.g., Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis)

It is important to remember that although pain is the biggest problem for Chronic Pain sufferers, there are also some other symptoms that contribute to making the condition even more unbearable. These include insomnia, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. Chronic pain has also been known to trigger muscle spasms leading to soreness and stiffness.

Treating Chronic Pain

Pain specialists use a wide variety of pain management techniques. Oral medications such as opioids, acetaminophen, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a popular choice, but topical medications like ointments, creams, and patches are also common. There are also some techniques pain specialists may use to help relieve pain that don’t involve drugs. These include alternative therapies such as acupuncture or procedures to alleviate the pain.

A recent study has also revealed that behavioral strategies can be beneficial for pain management when it comes to chronic pain. A growing number of pain specialists are advocating the use of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and MBCT (mindfulness based cognitive therapy) as ways to help alleviate chronic pain.

Associated Pain Specialists (APS) has two Pain Management Clinics (one in Johnson City, TN and one in Knoxville, TN). Both locations can provide pain management options for patients including those living with chronic pain conditions. APS also operate the Smoky Mountain Ambulatory Surgery Center with its own on-site interventional pain specialist, orthopedic spine surgeon, and fellowship trained anesthesiologist.


Phone: (865) 673-5000

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