Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain

Contact Information

Stanford Outpatient Center
450 Broadway Street
Pavilion A, Room A18
Redwood City, CA 94063

(650) 723-6238

Clinic Hours
Monday - Friday
8:30am - 5:00pm

What is pain?

Pain is an unpleasant feeling that lets you know that something may be wrong. It is one of the body's warning signals that indicates a problem that needs attention. Pain starts in receptor nerve cells located beneath the skin and in organs throughout the body. When there is an illness, injury, or other type of problem, these receptor cells send messages along nerve pathways to the spinal cord, which then carries the message to the brain. Pain medications work by reducing or blocking these messages before they reach the brain.

Pain can be anything from a slight nuisance, such as a mild headache, to something excruciating and emergent, such as the chest pain that accompanies a heart attack.

Chronic pain has been said to be the most costly health problem in the United States. Estimated annual costs, including direct medical expenses, lost income, lost productivity, compensation payments, and legal charges, are about $100 billion. Consider the following:

Types of pain include:

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is long standing pain that persists beyond the usual recovery period or occurs along with a chronic health condition, such as arthritis. Chronic pain may be intermittent or continuous. It may affect people to the point that they cannot work, eat properly, participate in physical activity, or enjoy life.

Chronic pain is considered a major medical condition that can and should be treated.

What causes chronic pain?

There are many causes of chronic pain. It may have started from an illness or accident, from which a person has long since recovered. Or there may be an ongoing cause of pain, such as arthritis or cancer. Many people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of illness.

Treatment for Chronic Pain

Chronic pain involves all aspects of a person's life; therefore, the most effective treatment includes not only relief of symptoms, but also other types of support. A multidisciplinary approach to pain management can often provide the needed interventions to help manage the pain. Pain management programs are usually conducted on an outpatient basis. Many skilled professionals are part of the pain management rehabilitation team, including any/all of the following:

Special pain programs are located in many hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and pain clinics.

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