What is persistent pain?

Pain is regarded as persistent when it lasts or recurs for longer than 3 months (1). It is very frequent, as approximately 20% of the population worldwide has it and it can manifest in many different ways. Persistent pain has been defined by the World Health Organization, according to its aetiology (i.e. underlying cause) in primary pain (e.g. fibromyalgia), cancer pain, post-surgical and post-traumatic pain, neuropathic pain, headache, orofacial pain, visceral pain, and musculoskeletal pain (2). Irrespective of its aetiology, persistent pain can be a high source of suffering and cause significant emotional distress and/or functional disability (i.e. interference with activities of daily life and participation in social activities). 

The complexity of living with pain

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) has defined PAIN as “An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage” (3). This means that pain is a body-mind experience where not only physical sensations but also thoughts, self-beliefs, memories about previous experiences, emotions, and behaviours influence one another. Living with persistent pain can substantially impact on our internal world (how we think and feel), our perception of safety, sensory world (how we perceive body sensations and external stimuli), relationships, work and leisure time and, ultimately, our overall quality of life.
If you have realised that your quality of life has been affected by pain and/or you would like to learn effective skills to better manage your pain and body symptoms, please contact me for a 20 minutes free chat so we can discuss whether the approach I offer may be suitable for you.

  1. Steingrimsdottir OA, Landmark T, Macfarlane GJ, et al. Defining chronic pain in epidemiological studies: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain. 2017 Nov;158(11):2092-2107. 

  2. Treede RD, Rief W, Barke A, et al. A classification of chronic pain for ICD-11. Pain. 2015 Jun;156(6):1003-1007. 

  3. Raja SN, Carr DB, Cohen M, et al. The revised International Association for the Study of Pain definition of pain: concepts, challenges, and compromises. Pain. 2020 Sep 1;161(9):1976-1982.