chronic pain symptoms

Symptoms of Chronic Pain Syndrome

Chronic pain syndrome is pain lasting more than three months. Learn about chronic pain symptoms and how to find relief here.

Table of Contents

What Is Chronic Pain Syndrome?

When you suffer an injury or illness, pain is a common symptom. The pain typically eases after the illness subsides, or the injury heals; however, pain that persists longer than three months is the primary indicator of chronic pain syndrome. An estimated 25.3 million people in the United States experience chronic pain symptoms.1

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.

What Does Chronic Pain Feel Like?

Pain symptoms from chronic pain conditions can be physically and emotionally draining, and unfortunately, it is not uncommon to experience near-constant pain that never truly subsides. In addition to consistent pain, occasional painful flare-ups can occur under increased stress or participating in new activities.

Chronic pain symptoms feel different for everyone, but people who live with chronic symptoms typically describe the pain in the following ways:

  • Burning
  • Dull aches
  • Throbbing
  • Squeezing
  • Shooting 
  • Pulsing

Symptoms of Chronic Pain Syndrome

There are several common signs and symptoms of pain that occur with chronic pain syndrome. Because chronic pain symptoms affect all aspects of life, chronic pain syndrome symptoms can be physical and emotional.

There are several common signs and symptoms of pain that occur with chronic pain syndrome. Because chronic pain symptoms affect all aspects of life, chronic pain syndrome symptoms can be physical and emotional.

Physical Symptoms

The physical symptoms of chronic pain can include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Trouble sleeping

Emotional Symptoms

In addition to the physical impacts of chronic pain symptoms, adverse mental health symptoms can occur, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Guilt
  • Irritability
  • Suicidal thoughts

Some statistics suggest that almost 61% of people with chronic pain also live with depression.2

Causes of Chronic Pain Syndrome

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

  • Back Pain: Symptoms of chronic back pain can occur due to nerve compression, muscle strains, and spinal stenosis (arthritis in the spine). 

  • Fibromyalgia: Fibromyalgia is a neurological condition that causes tenderness and pain throughout the body. Approximately four million American adults have fibromyalgia.3

  • Diabetic Neuropathy: Diabetic neuropathy is a condition where nerve damage occurs due to diabetes. The most common areas of the body to experience nerve damage due to neuropathy are the legs and feet, and nerve damage in these areas can lead to severe and sometimes debilitating pain.

Additional Sources of Chronic Pain Symptoms

Other potential sources of chronic pain symptoms include: 

Diagnosis of Chronic Pain Syndrome

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

Medical History

The first step toward a chronic pain diagnosis is to see your primary care provider. They will work with you to better understand your symptoms and decide what course of treatment best fits your chronic pain symptoms.

For your doctor to provide an accurate diagnosis, they will need a complete medical history. Additionally, they will ask questions about when your pain started, how your pain feels, where in your body you feel pain, and if there is anything you can do to reduce the intensity of your pain.

Imaging and Lab Tests

Next, they may order a series of imaging and lab tests. Because certain medical conditions can lead to pain, it is essential to rule out these possible conditions. Your doctor may order an MRI to check for a herniated disc if you suffer from symptoms of chronic back pain and run a series of blood tests to check for rheumatoid arthritis. 

Chronic pain syndrome

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 exercises can help increase range of motion and joint flexibility. As a result, you may notice reduced pain and stiffness in your muscles and joints.

Psychological Therapy

Living with constant pain can be emotionally debilitating, so treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy may help improve your mood by reducing negative thoughts and emotions. One study suggests that biofeedback therapy can help reduce muscle tension and depression, helping patients cope with chronic pain symptoms.4

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: Hypnosis may help reduce chronic pain symptoms. 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 these benefits could translate to other pain management needs.5

  • 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: 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.6

Find Help 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.

Contact us at J. Flowers Health Institute today for information about how our compassionate treatment staff and evidence-based treatments can help.