Chronic Pain- What is it?

Chronic pain is usually defined as pain that lasts longer than 3 months, or that lasts past the expected time for healing. Chronic pain occurs for many reasons. Sometimes the pain is because of an underlying condition that does not heal, like arthritis pain that is caused by inflammation repeatedly. This pain serves the function of letting us know something is damaged, even if the damage cannot be entirely repaired. However, chronic pain can also be due to nerve damage that lasts after an initial injury has healed. This type of pain, over time, can alter pain responses in the body and result in increased pain even without stimulus. This pain does not serve a functional purpose, and can be frustrating and difficult to treat. Chronic pain is a description of experience, not a diagnosis. The different causes of pain require different treatments and management systems. An accurate diagnosis can help clarify treatment options that are specific to the causes of an individual’s chronic pain. It is also important to realize that living with chronic pain often causes mental health struggles in addition to physical pain. Depression is common, and treatment for mental and physical health are important.

To learn more about individual chronic pain management, and how phone apps can help, The Critical Path Learning Center is hosting a workshop on Jan 30 2-4pm. You can register here: or by calling 267-428-7352.

Infographic titled What is chronic pain?

Chronic, persistent or long-term pain is pain that continues for longer than 3 months. It is usually defined as pain that persists beyond the normal time that tissues take to heal following an injury.

Chronic pain is a significant global health burden.

Across the globe low back pain causes more disability than any other condition.

Main causes and conditions of chronic pain: low back pain, cervical and thoracic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, shoulder pain, headache disorders, cancer, fibromyalgia.

New section titled Facts about pain

Acute pain alarms us about potential tissue damage and typically comes on suddenly as a result of a specific incident such as surgery, childbirth, a fracture, or trauma.

Chronic pain serves no biologic purpose as it is not related to the threat of tissue damage. Chronic pain can be considered a disease state and can persist for months or years.

Pain persists in response to being overly sensitive to a perceived threat of harm to your body, despite the absence of tissue damage

New section titled How Physical Therapy Helps

Physical therapy helps people with chronic pain develop the skills they need to manage and take control of their condition, increase their activity and improve their quality of life. 

New section titled Benefits of exercise for chronic pain

Flexibility: maintain flexibility and movement

Cardiovascular: important for cardiovascular health

Strength: helps to build and keep muscle tone

Mood: improves mood and general wellbeing

Exercise therapy is included in all guidelines for the treatment of chronic pain- ask your physical therapist, the exercise expert

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Annette B. Gadegbeku, MD

Annette B. Gadegbeku, MD

Annette B. Gadegbeku, MD is Director of Adult Medicine at John Bell Health Center and Jonathan Lax Treatment Center of Philadelphia FIGHT Community Health Centers. Dr. Gadegbeku is a Family Medicine Physician who specializes in primary care for all ages (from pediatrics to geriatrics)!

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Dr. Mario Cruz

Dr Cruz with PatientDr. Cruz is a board-certified pediatrician who serves as the Medical Director for our Pediatrics and Adolescent Health Center. He has presented and/or published in the fields of community violence and domestic violence prevention, quality improvement, behavioral health, curriculum development, and mentorship.

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