Migraine and chronic pain: when it hurts again and again

Migraine is one, but not the only form of chronic pain. But what does chronic pain mean? What does it mean for our overall wellbeing?
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To understand more about migraine, we want to understand more about chronic pain. Migraine is not the only form of chronic pain, but one of the most common ones. Other examples are back pain or arthritis.

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is very common. You might think mainly for old people. Well, no. Chronic pain affects people from young to old. In children and teenagers, studies estimate that every fourth lives with some form of chronic pain.

Chronic pain, also called persistent pain, is defined as pain that carries on for longer than 3 months despite medication or treatment.

Pain is usually a warning signal. It tells us when something is wrong. For example, as a child, you probably touched a hot stovetop. When you did that, your body realized that this is harmful and dangerous and it sends a signal to the brain. The brain translates that to pain. But that’s over again soon. When the danger is gone and your body had some time to recover, also your pain signal is gone. (And probably your mind saved a mental note to not touch that stovetop again).

The problem with chronic pain is that the pain signals stay. Even when the injury or illness that caused it is long gone. Your nervous system might still trigger pain signals for months or even years. And even without an underlying injury or illness, some people’s nervous systems send those pain signals.

What does chronic pain do to our body?

Chronic pain most likely causes stress for your body leading to physical and emotional consequences. Those could include:

Physical:

  • low energy levels
  • tense muscles
  • difficulties moving around
  • changes in appetite

Emotional:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Anger

How can you treat chronic pain?

The treatment of chronic pain depends a lot on your condition, age, and overall health. There are medications and invasive treatments available. For migraine, we collected some of them here.

One overlap between all of them is to change your pain perception. As our body wrongly learned to send those pain signals all the time, we can also teach our brain to do the opposite. We can learn to modulate our pain experiences.

Your child lives with migraine? You want to know about everything you can do to support them? We’re here to help. In our Parent Online Course, you’ll become an expert in coping with your child’s chronic pain as a family.

  • Bite-sized modules that fit your busy schedule
  • From migraine basics to actionable strategies
  • Recommended by leading neurologists & psychologists

Learn more about the course & sign up here.

Sources:

Cleveland Clinic on Acute vs. Chronic Pain

Cleveland Clinic on Chronic Pain

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