All patients with chronic physical pain are not alike and shouldn't be treated the same. That's the basis of this article on somatoform disorders. Somatoform disorders refer to aches and pains that are amplified (blown out of proportion) because of underlying psychologic or emotional distress. Vague complaints of muscle or joint pain, fatigue, stomach problems, numbness and tingling, headaches, and so on are typical physical complaints associated with somatoform disorders.
Pain that lasts beyond the expected time after an injury or pain that seems to develop for no apparent reason continues to baffle scientists and pain specialists around the world. This type of pain labeled chronic has been the focus of neuroimaging studies for the last two decades. Neuroimaging has opened our eyes to the changes in the brain that accompany chronic pain. Changes that affect the anatomy, biochemistry, and neurochemistry of the nervous system.
When people experience a musculoskeletal injury, one that involves muscles or bone, recovery depends on many things ranging from the obvious (treatment) to the not-so-obvious (fear of movement causing pain). While most people who are injured at work are able to return to their position within a reasonable amount of time, up to 20 percent do not recover quickly and live with prolonged pain and disability, resulting in a delayed return to work.
Health care, like most other things in life, has a cost attached to it. For people with low back pain, this cost can be significant. According to a recent study in the United States, costs from low back pain had increased from 52 billion dollars to 102 billion dollars - doubling in only seven years. If there were more people with back pain, this could be understandable, but the number of people experiencing low back pain has not doubled as the cost has.
Complex regional pain syndrome is a little understood but very painful syndrome that can begin after a seemingly minor injury. What makes this syndrome even more puzzling is the allodynia, severe pain results from a relatively harmless action, such as brushing lightly against the affected limb. Because it is neuropathic, or nerve pain, it is particularly hard to treat.