Generalized pain disorders such as firbromyalgia or reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome—also known as complex regional pain syndrome—can bring your life to a halt.
Lack of sleep, inability to perform daily activities and constant pain can put strains on work and personal relationships. New research points to the spinal cord and brain as culprits for some of these complex and frustrating disorders.
Common generalized pain disorders include:
Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (complex regional pain syndrome)
This chronic pain condition usually affects one or more extremities. It often occurs in conjunction with injury or surgery. The condition is thought be be due to an abnormal interpretation of normal sensations by the brain and spinal cord.
Symptoms usually include spontaneous “burning” pain, intense pain to light touch or cold, swelling, decreased range of motion, and/or a difference in temperature and sweating between affected and non-affected body parts.
This chronic pain and fatigue condition affects a significant portion of the population.
The pain is often characterized by a marked sensitivity to pressure over all parts of the body. In addition, people suffering from this disorder often have signs of chronic fatigue and may exhibit signs of depression.
They may also have associated syndromes such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder.
Myofascial pain syndrome
Myofascial pain syndrome describes a disorder of localized and referred pain from very sensitive areas in skeletal muscle that contain palpable “trigger points”. These points are found most often in the head, neck, shoulders, extremities and lower back.
This type of pain syndrome is often seen after trauma, whiplash injuries and surgery. If left untreated, this muscle dysfunction can lead to persistent chronic pain.
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