General Pain Causes & Conditions
General pain—that is, pain felt throughout the body, as opposed to pain that originates from a specific location—can be quite mysterious to diagnose. People who experience persistent, general pain may believe they are suffering from a specific condition, such as back pain or chronic headaches. But if the pain is not confined to just one area of the body, and if it persists for several months or longer, it may actually be general or chronic pain, which is a more complex condition. General pain causes and conditions include fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, arthritis and neuropathy.
Fibromyalgia is a term used to describe chronic, widespread pain along with a heightened response to pain. Affecting far more women than men and mostly people in their 40s and 50s, this condition affects the muscles, skin and soft tissue. Fibromyalgia causes chronic and widespread muscle pain and stiffness along with headaches and tender joints, and can also cause numbness and tingling in the arms, legs, hands or feet.
The defining characteristic of fibromyalgia is pain felt all over the body, which can be deep, sore, achy, dull or throbbing. The pain might come and go, or it might move from one point to another in the body. A person who has fibromyalgia might also experience tenderness around the joints that feel sore when pressed.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) shares several characteristics with fibromyalgia, including the mysterious nature of its causes, a similar set of demographics in the population experiencing this condition and the difficulty of diagnosing and treating its symptoms. As with fibromyalgia, CFS affects far more women than men, and the condition occurs most often in people in their 40s and 50s. Chronic fatigue might be triggered by a viral infection, a nutritional deficiency or a faulty immune system, but its exact causes aren’t known.
Along with extreme, overwhelming fatigue that isn’t relieved by sleeping, CFS also causes recurring and chronic pain. CFS pain can manifest in the form of headaches, sore muscles or joints, or a sore throat. At least some of this pain may be the result of lack of exercise or lying down for prolonged periods due to overwhelming fatigue.
Arthritis is a condition which can develop when the cartilage in the joints breaks down due to aging or inflammation. The resulting lack of cartilage often causes pain, stiffness, swelling and weakness. Osteoarthritis, the most common type of this condition, is most prevalent among older people, as well as in women, people who work on their feet and people who are overweight.
Rheumatoid arthritis and post-traumatic arthritis also both cause stiffness, swelling and pain in the joints. With rheumatoid arthritis, the joint becomes inflamed, while post-traumatic arthritis can be associated with cartilage damage caused by a serious trauma or injury.
Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can attack joints throughout the body, including the shoulders, elbows, hands, spine, hips and knees. For this reason, people with arthritis can feel general, chronic pain as a result of their condition.
Neuropathy and Nerve Damage
The sensory nerves send information, including pain signals, from the muscles and skin to the brain. For this reason, the term “neuropathy,” which refers to nerve pain, can be misleading, since all pain is nerve pain. The difference lies in normal versus abnormal nerve functioning. When the nerves are functioning normally, they send pain signals to the brain when there is the presence of a specific stimulus, such as a broken bone, a stubbed toe or a bee sting. But in the case of neuropathy, the nerve signals fire even when pain stimuli are not present.
Shingles, diabetes, ruptured discs in the spine and certain other illnesses and disorders can cause nerve damage resulting in neuropathy. Compression and crush injuries can also lead to neuropathy, as can certain nutritional deficiencies. Neuropathy and nerve damage can feel like mild tingling, prickling, burning, numbness or sensitivity.
Whatever the cause, Balcones Pain can diagnose and treat your general pain with an individualized treatment plan and compassionate care.