What is chronic back pain?

Chronic back pain is defined as pain that lasts longer than 3-6 months. About 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, which can vary from mild to excruciating, episodic to continuous, merely inconvenient or completely incapacitating.

Signals of pain can remain active in the nervous system for months or even years and can take a physical and emotional toll on a person.

Pain can be separated into acute pain, chronic pain, and neuropathic pain. Acute pain is directly related to tissue damage and lasts less than 3 to 6 months. If the pain does not subside, it becomes more susceptible to other influences and develops into chronic pain. There are at least 2 different types of chronic pain problems:

  • with an identifiable pain generator
  • without an identifiable pain generator

Spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease (DDD), and spondylolisthesis can cause ongoing pain until successfully treated. Chronic pain without an identifiable pain generator is often termed as "chronic benign pain" and continues way beyond the point of tissue healing. In chronic pain, the nervous system sends a pain signal even though there is no ongoing tissue damage, making pain the disease rather than the symptom of an injury.

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Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/