Chronic Joint Pain

Chronic pain is pain lasting for longer than three to six months or beyond the point where the tissue has healed. Chronic joint pain is pain that continues in and around a joint that has been injured, either because the injury hasn't fully healed itself, or due to associated neuropathic pain. Chronic joint pain may be especially difficult to treat, because many of the injuries associated with them are irreversible. The joints are as fast healing as structures such as the muscles and bones, because they are largely avascular. Because of the limited blood supply to the joints and other soft tissues associated with the joints, they are slow to heal after the soft tissues have become strained, or after the cartilage of joints has degenerated or torn. Some soft tissue injuries never really heal themselves, causing chronic pain in and around them. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to help people cope with and treat chronic pain and chronic joint pain.

In some cases, patient may continue to have lasting pain in an area of injury even after a physical examination and medical imaging tests indicate that the injury has fully healed. The area seems to have healed, based on the best diagnostic tests available to evaluate the problem, but for some reason the pain remains. Perhaps the injury wasn't diagnosed correctly and didn't heal properly as a result. Maybe the damage to the joints or tissues that caused the pain was more extensive that the doctor though. Maybe you reinjured the soft tissues, causing the condition to worsen. Chronic joint pain may be either somatic or neuropathic.

When we speak of any pain condition, we include the sharp or dull ache and intensity that all people experience as a result of some type of injury, as well as any associated symptoms, such as burning, tingling, numbness, and referred pain. The biggest concern with chronic pain is lack of comfort. People in pain that lasts for days and months may be overwhelmed by their symptoms, making work and play more difficult, possibly even causing a loss of sleep. The longer pain continues, the greater the likelihood it will be that the chronic pain will negatively affect people's lives.

One major concern is that chronic pain can, and often does cause long-term changes in your body. For example, if you were to have chronic joint pain in one of your hip joints, you may compensate by favoring the other side of the body as you walk, to take some of the pressure of the painful side. While these types of adjustments may some joint relief while you are doing them, the long-term effects may be muscle imbalance caused by the act of using the muscles on the opposite side of the body more. The body thrives on balance of muscles to maintain the proper alignment of the joints and spine. When the body is thrown out of alignment, due to muscle imbalances, the certain joints may be thrown out of their proper position or be forced to take on added weights or pressures that they were not designed to. These added weights and pressures on weight bearing and non-weight joints can cause a stretching of the soft tissues around the joint and accelerate the rate of wear and tear to that joint. Physical therapy can be done to restore muscle balance. Prolotherapy may be successful at restoring the strength and length of soft tissues such as the ligaments and tendons that have become lax due to repeat injury to certain joints involves with chronic joint pain.