A Look at the Emotional Toll of Chronic Pain

Stubbing your toe or sustaining a papercut brings unpleasant pain, but fortunately, this diminishes quickly. Even breaking a finger or a limb may be unpleasant, but are only temporary problems. Chronic pain is entirely different. When a person lives with debilitating pain every hour of every day, the pain tends to affect the mind as well as the body. If you have a musculoskeletal injury that has led to chronic pain such as chronic lower back pain, it’s time to see a chiropractor in San Jose. Chiropractic care can effectively and rapidly relieve your symptoms and drastically improve your quality of life.



Research suggests that people who suffer from chronic pain are more likely to develop depressive symptoms. In turn, depression can exacerbate perceptions of chronic pain. In part, this is because of the way in which the nervous system is wired. The pathways in the brain that are responsible for receiving pain signals use the same neurotransmitters that play a role in mood regulation. These include serotonin and norepinephrine. Additionally, chronic pain can actually change the way the nervous system functions. The result is that patients with poorly managed chronic pain may be more likely to suffer from depressive symptoms such as feelings of hopelessness, sadness, worthlessness, or anger. Lack of energy, apathy, social withdrawal, thoughts of suicide, and changes in appetite are some of the other problems associated with depression.


Another way chronic pain can wreak havoc with emotional health is by interfering with healthy sleep. Patients who suffer from chronic pain often find it difficult to get comfortable enough to fall asleep. When they do fall asleep, chronic pain can easily rouse them from sleep. Lack of sufficient sleep can lead to additional health problems, both physical and emotional. Among other problems, sleep deprived people are more likely to be irritable and to have a “short fuse.”


Chronic pain can interfere with proper brain functioning. When compounded with sleep deprivation, this problem can be even more pronounced. Patients with chronic pain often report memory problems, learning difficulties, and concentration problems. These cognition problems can make it difficult for patients to complete even the simplest of everyday tasks.