At pain clinics all over the country, doctors listen to patient complaints in hopes of understanding why they are experiencing their particular pain. But it's not just pain doctors who hear such complaints. Doctors of all stripes hear about pain – from oncologists to orthopedists and GPs.
Pain is challenging for doctors to address simply because there are so many things that can cause it. Furthermore, there are no scientific tests capable of accurately measuring pain in the same way an x-ray can detect a broken bone. Pain is a matter of perception. Doctors need to rely on patient reports to understand pain as best they can.
So, what are the most common pain complaints doctors hear about? Without trying to rank them, here are five common pain issues compliments of John Hopkins Medicine:
Back pain, particularly pain in lower back, is arguably one of the most significant health problems in America. It is one of the most common complaints doctors hear, as well as a leading cause of inactivity in adults.
You have probably experienced back pain at least once in your lifetime. And if not, you likely will at some point. Lower back pain can be caused by a variety of issues including herniated discs, pinched nerves, arthritis in the spine, collapsed vertebrae, and more.
Next on the list is cancer. Everything from lung to breast and prostate cancer can cause pain. Unfortunately, disease-related pain is not all patients have to deal with. Cancer treatments can cause additional pain. In fact, they often do. Some patients experience treatment pain they consider more severe than the pain caused by the actual disease.
Arthritis is one of the most common joint diseases in the world. There are several types, among them being osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriatic arthritis. Each one creates a different kind of pain that can be anywhere from mild to debilitating.
Arthritis pain is especially concerning because it tends to lead to less activity and a loss of function. The combination of both can contribute to additional health problems as time goes on.
According to John Hopkins, millions of American adults suffer from routine headaches. They are almost as challenging to doctors as pain itself because there are so many different types and causes.
In chronic cases, some of the more common headache types include migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches. As for their particular causes, it is not an exact science. Triggers can vary greatly among patients.
Last on the list is the more general category of pain disorders. A pain disorder is a disorder in which pain is the main symptom. It may be the only symptom. Fibromyalgia immediately comes to mind.
Once known as fibromyalgia syndrome, the condition used to be difficult to diagnose. Doctors had to listen closely to patient descriptions of pain and then manipulate certain trigger points to see what happened. Though we still don't fully understand fibromyalgia, studies suggest it may be the result of an overactive nervous system.
Neuropathy is another pain disorder. It is often associated with diabetes. In diabetic patients, the disease leads to nerve damage which causes pain in the extremities. However, neuropathy can be independent of other health conditions. It can be a condition all to itself.
Pain clinics do their best to help patients find relief. Sometimes the journey to effective pain management is relatively easy. Other times it proves difficult. Whether your pain complaints are common or not, we are here to help you feel better.