Chronic Pain Symptoms

Symptoms of Chronic Pain Syndrome

Chronic pain symptoms can look different from person to person. Read on to learn more about your symptoms and how to find relief.

The information presented on this page is an overview of the average evaluation of chronic pain and is offered here as a resource. At J. Flowers Health Institute, our evaluations and treatment plans are customized and tailored to each individual’s needs. We specialize in providing a comprehensive team approach to your care. Our evaluations may include neuropsychological and medical testing, brain mapping, and a chronic pain assessment for help diagnosing your symptoms to provide the holistic care you deserve.

If you would like to learn more about J. Flowers Health Institute, please do not hesitate to reach out.

We welcome any questions you have: 713.715.1618.

Chronic Pain Management at J. Flowers Health Institute

Experience empathetic and proficient care at J. Flowers Health Institute. Led by Dr. James S. Flowers, our team of board-certified professionals is deeply committed to understanding and managing your chronic pain symptoms.

Our primary goal is to enhance your quality of life by providing you with the highest quality care, based on thorough evaluations and expert diagnoses.
Rooted in the heart of the Texas Medical Center and our sophisticated London, UK clinic, we provide world-class services for our patients across the globe. Our uniquely tailored services provide you with an environment where you can truly relax, reflect, and focus on your health.

What Is Chronic Pain Syndrome?

Chronic pain syndrome is a health condition where a person experiences persistent pain that lasts for more than three months.

Unlike acute pain, which is a normal sensation that alerts us to possible injury, chronic pain persists. Pain signals may keep firing in the nervous system for weeks, months, or even years.

Chronic pain syndrome is both a medical and mental health condition. The physical toll chronic pain has on the body can quickly become mentally and emotionally draining to deal with on a daily basis. An estimated 25.3 million people in the United States experience chronic pain symptoms.1

What Does Chronic Pain Feel Like?

Chronic pain symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, making it a somewhat challenging condition to describe and diagnose. However, there are common experiences that many people with chronic pain share.
They may include:
  • Constant throbbing in a specific part of the body
  • A stinging sensation that travels throughout various parts of the body
  • A dull ache or a burning sensation
  • Sharp or shooting pain

Chronic pain can be intermittent, meaning it comes and goes. However, it can also be constant. It can occur in nearly any part of the body, making it a widespread condition.

Physical and Emotional Symptoms of Chronic Pain

Because chronic pain symptoms affect all aspects of life,chronic pain symptoms can be both physical and emotional. These symptoms may include:

Muscle Stiffness and Weakness

Muscle stiffness and weakness are common chronic pain symptoms. When you’re in pain, your body’s natural response is to protect the area, often leading to prolonged periods of limited movement.
Over time, this can result in muscles becoming stiff and weak. You might find it harder to move certain parts of your body, and tasks that were once easy may become more difficult.

Sensory Changes

Chronic pain syndrome can also lead to sensory changes. This can include increased sensitivity to pain, known as hyperalgesia, or pain from stimuli that aren’t typically painful, known as allodynia.
For example, you might find that a light touch or a change in temperature, which wouldn’t normally cause pain, can cause a painful response. These sensory changes can make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks, such as dressing or bathing, and can add to the distress of living with chronic pain.

Fatigue and Sleep Disturbances

Pain can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, leading to feelings of tiredness and lack of energy during the day. This lack of restful sleep can, in turn, make the pain feel worse, creating a vicious cycle.
Sleep disturbances can include trouble falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, or waking up feeling unrefreshed. According to one study, two-thirds of people with chronic pain conditions suffer from sleep disorders.2

Reduced Range of Motion

This means that you might not be able to move your joints as freely as you used to. For example, if you have chronic pain in your knee, you might not be able to bend or straighten your knee as much as before. This can make it harder to do everyday activities like walking, climbing stairs, or reaching for items.

Headaches and Migraines

Headaches and migraines can also be chronic pain symptoms. Chronic headaches occur most days of the week, while migraines are severe headaches that can cause a throbbing sensation, usually on one side of the head. They can also cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.


The persistent nature of the pain can lead to feelings of worry and fear. You may find yourself constantly anxious about when the pain might return if it subsides, or how to manage it if it’s always present.
This constant state of stress can exacerbate the chronic pain symptoms, creating a cycle that is hard to break.


Living with persistent pain can make you feel hopeless, leading to a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed and a persistent feeling of sadness. Some statistics suggest that almost 61% of people with chronic pain also live with depression.3

Behavioral Changes Stemming From Depression

Irritability and Mood Swings

Chronic pain can also lead to irritability and mood swings. The constant discomfort can make you more short-tempered, leading to sudden changes in mood. This can strain relationships with family and friends. It can also add to the emotional burden of living with chronic pain.

Cognitive Impairment

This means you might find it harder to think clearly, make decisions, or solve problems. The constant presence of pain can be distracting, making it difficult to focus and process information as quickly or efficiently as you normally would.

Impact of Chronic Pain Symptoms

There are multiple impacts that chronic pain symptoms can have on an individual’s life. This can include:


The constant discomfort can make it difficult for you to participate in social activities, leading to a sense of isolation. You might also withdraw from friends and family. This isolation can further exacerbate feelings of depression and anxiety.

Impact on Work and Productivity

Chronic pain symptoms can have a significant impact on your work and productivity. The constant pain can make it difficult to concentrate, leading to decreased productivity. You might find it hard to sit for long periods, lift heavy objects, or perform other tasks required for your job.
According to a survey, 61% of respondents said that chronic pain made it impossible for them to work outside the home.4

Substance Use Disorder

Drugs, alcohol, and other substances are often used as a way to cope with the constant pain or emotional distress associated with it. While these substances might provide short-term relief, they can lead to dependence and serious health issues in the long run.

What is Substance Use Disorder?

Causes of Chronic Pain Syndrome

Chronic pain symptoms are often connected to medical conditions that cause long-lasting and widespread pain. While several conditions can cause pain, some are more common than others. These may include:

Back Pain

Chronic pain symptoms can often be traced back to back pain. Back pain, particularly in the lower region, is typically a result of strain from lifting heavy objects or repetitive movement.

In some cases, it may be due to conditions like arthritis, which causes inflammation in the joints of the back, or osteoporosis, a disease that weakens the bones, making them prone to fractures. Disc diseases, such as herniated or bulging discs, can also lead to chronic back pain.
Statistics show that back pain affects around 84% of adults at some point in their lives. Although it often resolves on its own, for some, it can persist and turn into chronic back pain, which subsequently can lead to chronic pain syndrome if not managed effectively.5


Fibromyalgia is another cause of chronic pain symptoms. It’s a disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue. People with fibromyalgia have “tender points” on the body.

Tender points are specific places on the neck, shoulders, back, hips, arms, and legs. These points hurt when pressure is put on them. Approximately four million American adults have fibromyalgia.6

What is Fibromyalgia?

Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a condition where nerve damage occurs due to diabetes. High blood sugar can injure nerves throughout your body. Diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet.
Depending on the affected nerves, symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can range from pain and numbness in your legs and feet to problems with your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels, and heart.

Additional Sources of Chronic Pain Symptoms

Chronic pain symptoms can be a constant companion for many people living with cancer. It can be the result of the cancer itself, or it can come from treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.
Surgical trauma can also lead to chronic pain. After surgery, you might experience pain in the area of the operation. However, sometimes the pain doesn’t go away after you’ve healed. This is known as chronic post-surgical pain.
Finally, various diseases and conditions can cause chronic pain. For example, arthritis, which is inflammation of one or more of your joints, can cause pain and stiffness that can worsen with age.

Diagnosis of Chronic Pain Syndrome

The typical process of diagnosing chronic pain syndrome will be detailed below.

Medical History and Physical Examination

Identifying chronic pain symptoms starts with an in-depth review of your medical history and a physical examination. The doctor will ask about the type of pain you’re experiencing, its location, and any activities that may cause or worsen the pain.
Previous injuries, surgeries, or long-standing health conditions are also noted, as these can often be linked to the onset of chronic pain. A physical examination allows the doctor to observe your condition, look for potential signs of injury or disease, and gauge your pain levels.

Diagnostic Criteria

Chronic pain syndrome has specific diagnostic criteria that need to be met. To be diagnosed, your pain should persist beyond the usual healing time of an injury or illness, typically considered to be about three to six months.
For diagnosis criteria to be met, the pain should cause significant distress or impairment in your everyday activities.

Imaging and Lab Tests

Imaging tests like X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans can help pinpoint the cause of chronic pain symptoms by providing a detailed view of your body’s internal structures. They can identify injuries, deformities, or diseases that could be causing your pain.
Laboratory tests might be useful to rule out certain conditions. Blood tests can show signs of infection, inflammation, or other markers associated with specific diseases.

Treatment of Chronic Pain Syndrome

Living with chronic pain can be frustrating and challenging, but it is treatable. Working with your doctor, you can determine the best treatment option to help you manage pain symptoms. 

Many treatment programs for chronic pain syndrome include medications, physical therapy, and psychological therapy.


Your doctor might suggest using various over-the-counter or prescription drugs to relieve pain. These may include anti-inflammatory medications, steroids, and muscle relaxers.
In some cases, medical professionals prescribe antidepressants, as some have pain-relieving effects. As a last resort, opioids may be prescribed for a short-term course of treatment.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy and rehabilitation can be very effective in managing chronic pain symptoms. Physical therapists can guide you through a range of exercises that help to strengthen muscles, improve mobility, and reduce pain.
In addition to exercises, physical therapy can also incorporate other pain-relieving methods. This could include massage, heat or cold therapy, or even techniques like ultrasound or electrical stimulation that can help relieve pain in targeted areas.

Psychological Therapy

Psychological interventions can help you develop coping strategies to manage the emotional and mental challenges associated with chronic pain.
Techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy can help change negative thought patterns related to pain. Also, relaxation techniques and mindfulness can reduce stress and improve your overall well-being.

Alternative Treatments for Chronic Pain

In addition to medication and therapy, your doctor may recommend alternative treatment options for chronic pain management. Alternative treatment opportunities include:


Hypnotherapy is a practice where a therapist guides you into a relaxed, focused state and helps you use your own mind to manage pain.
Based on a study of participants with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), up to 71% of subjects reported improved symptoms after a course of hypnosis. It is believed that these benefits could translate to other pain management needs.7

Meditation and Yoga

Meditation and yoga encourage deep breathing and relaxation, soothing the muscles. They may also improve mood by reducing the depression and anxiety that accompany chronic pain.


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical practice that involves inserting very thin needles into specific points on your body. The idea is to promote self-healing by stimulating specific anatomic sites, commonly referred to as acupuncture points.

Recent research found that acupuncture reduced pain levels by 50% compared to 30% for patients who did not receive acupuncture as a chronic pain management tool.8

Find Help for Chronic Pain Symptoms at J. Flowers Health Institute

When you suffer from chronic pain, it can feel like the pain is taking over. The emotional stress added to living with chronic pain can make it difficult to work, care for family, and achieve daily goals. Fortunately, chronic pain is treatable.

At J. Flowers Health Institute, we understand the complexity and challenges of managing chronic pain. We believe in treating the whole person and not just the symptoms.

What Do We Offer?

We offer comprehensive assessments using our “Living MRI” approach, to find the underlying cause of your pain and provide an individualized treatment plan.

Our diagnostic evaluation may include:

  • Comprehensive medical evaluation
  • Chronic pain evaluation
  • Psychiatric evaluation
  • Lifestyle assessment
  • Specialty physicians consult
  • Fitness and nutritional evaluation
  • Psychological diagnostic testing
  • Neuropsychological testing and brain mapping
  • Nutritional assessment and guidance
  • Psychosocial and trauma assessment
  • Medication evaluation
  • Substance use disorder assessment
  • Spiritual assessment and counsel
  • Comprehensive report and action plan

Chronic Pain Symptoms and Conditions We Can Help With

Chronic pain symptoms and conditions we can help diagnose and treat include, but are not limited to:
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Sciatica
  • Back pain
  • Arthritis pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Headaches and migraines

We Are Here To Help

At J. Flowers Health Institute, we believe in a holistic approach to health and wellness. This means looking beyond your symptoms to understand and treat the root cause of your pain.

We have a team of highly skilled and experienced health professionals who are committed to providing you with the best care. Our individualized approach ensures that your specific needs are met and that you are on your way to optimal health.

If you are struggling with chronic pain symptoms and looking for a comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment, reach out to J. Flowers Health Institute today. Let us guide you on your path to a pain-free life.

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