Overview: Chronic Pain Syndrome


Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) is not the same things as chronic pain. It is similar, in that, it may develop after the original cause of pain has healed, if there was a injury, like chronic pain. CPS is not considered as a diagnosis unless the pain as been present for a minimum of 6 months, also similar chronic pain. It is estimated that 25% of individuals who have chronic pain may receive a diagnosis of chronic pain syndrome.


There are a variety of chronic pain conditions which can trigger CPS. These include, but not limited to: (These are just a few examples)

  • Musculoskeletal Disorders: Arthritis, Disk Herniation, Fibromyalgia, Lyme Disease, Polymyalgia Rheumatica, Piriformis Syndrome, Chronic Overuse Injuries
  • Neurological Disorders: Cervical Radiculopathy, Spinal Stenosis, Neuralgias, Migraine Headache, Muscle Tension Headache, Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction
  • Urological Disorders: Interstitial Cystitis, Prostatitis, Urolithiasis
  • Gastrointestinal Disorders: Gastroesophageal Reflux, Pancreatitis, Colitis
  • Reproductive Disorders: Endometriosis, Adenomyosis
  • Psychological Disorders: Depression, Bipolar, Sleep Disturbances
  • Other Disorder: Cardiovascular Disease, Complications From Surgery, Complications From Cancer Treatment
  • Symptoms

    Symptoms associated with chronic pain syndrome may include:

  • Joint & Muscle Pain
  • Paraesthesia
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of Endurance & Flexibility
  • Anxiety
  • Lack of Sleep
  • Irritability
  • Loss of Interest in Sex
  • Depression with and without Possible Suicidal Thoughts
  • Problems with Family and Friends
  • Job Loss
  • Possible Drug and/or Alcohol Abuse
  • CPS may have both physical and mental component. As such, stress can lead to increased symptoms.


    The exact cause of chronic pain syndrome is not known. Suggested theories include: that it is a learned behavior syndrome, that it involves a connection between mechanical hypersensitivity and central sensitization, or that it involves changes to anterior cingulate structural and reactivity to emotional arousal.

    Risk Factors

    Risk factors for the development of CPS include, but are not limited to: individuals who have a chronic pain condition, individuals who experience depression, individuals who smoke, and individuals who are obese. Women and those over the age of 65 are also at a higher risk for developing chronic pain syndrome.


    A diagnosis of CPS starts with a thorough medical history, including information regarding when the pain started; any recent injury; type, severity, and location of the pain; if anything helps the pain or makes it worse; and if any specific treatment eases the pain. A detailed physical examination of the musculoskeletal system will take place, as well as, other systems, such as neurological, gastrointestinal, and reproductive. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CAT scans and MRI’s are often ordered. Blood work may also be done to determine any underlying condition(s).


    There are a variety of treatments are available for chronic pain syndrome, including:

  • Physical Therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • TENS
  • Medications
  • Temperature Therapy
  • Nerve Blocks
  • Spinal Cord Stimulator
  • Implantable Pain Pump
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Acceptance Commitment Therapy
  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnosis
  • Yoga
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