Research indicates that about one in five Canadians suffer from some form of chronic pain. Chronic pain is typically defined as pain that lasts longer than three months. Chronic pain can be experienced as on several spectrums, including: mild to extreme, episodic to continuous, and inconvenient to incapacitating. It is an issue that can be caused by a complex combination of physical, occupational, psychological, and social factors. Some of the most common types or sources of chronic pain are associated with headaches, back pain, joint pain, pain from an injury, and pain after a surgical procedure. Pain is not a symptom that exists alone; rather, there are other experiences that can often be a part of the chronic condition or further exacerbate them, including the following: fatigue, sleepiness, lessened physical activity and weakened immune system.
The emotional and psychological toll of chronic pain can worsen the pain itself, as well as contribute to interpersonal difficulties, addiction issues, occupational and financial stresses, and overall compromised quality of life. Anxiety, depression, fear, hopelessness, irritability and stress are often experienced and interact in complex ways with chronic pain. In addition to addressing the physical symptoms of chronic pain, engaging in psychological treatment is important in managing and dealing with the emotional and interpersonal aspects of living with chronic pain.