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If you live with pain for a long time, it can become chronic. Here we look at what the condition is and how to treat it. It is possible to feel better.

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for at least three to six months. It is a common condition but treatment needs to be tailored to the person affected. Acute pain is a signal that is clearly linked to a cause and in chronic pain the condition may also be associated with a disease, but it can also be a condition in its own right. Tinnitus is an example of chronic pain.

Pain is also a condition that is somewhat difficult to predict, you can sometimes feel good in severe diseases but be in great pain if you break a leg. In chronic pain, you may have pain signals that react to things that were not previously painful. Long-term pain is rarely dangerous, but it can be very annoying.

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What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?

In acute pain, you get signals that something is not right in your body. The pain comes on suddenly and can last for a while but then passes. Long-term pain is a separate diagnosis with a different cause and treatment plan.

Chronic pain in different conditions

Chronic pain can develop as a consequence of various other somatic and psychological conditions. The pain may come and go, but often people have difficulty managing their mood and develop conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Diseases and conditions where chronic pain can develop include spinal problems, joint problems, neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), cancer, migraine, fibromyalgia and inflammatory diseases. Psychological factors can also have an impact, such as depression and anxiety, which can make pain more severe.


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Treatment for people living with pain

Being in pain can be very difficult and frustrating. If it affects your daily life, it is important to get help and support.

Chronic pain – symptoms

The symptoms of chronic pain need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis as they can be very different between individuals. Pain signals are received in the brain, and can be linked to our nervous system, but it can also be a cognitive and emotional experience.

If you have had pain for a long time, you can become very aware of all the signals that remind you of the pain, which can make it difficult to recover. This can lead to symptoms that may not be related to the initial pain such as numbness, warmth and other symptoms. Symptoms that are common in chronic pain are:

  1. Constant pain: Pain lasts longer than expected, for months or years. The pain may be constant or intermittent.
  2. Disability: It can affect the ability to perform daily activities and function normally.
  3. Psychological symptoms: People with chronic pain may experience psychological and emotional symptoms, including depression, anxiety, irritability and sleep problems.
  4. Changes in appetite and weight: Chronic pain can affect appetite and lead to weight gain or loss.
  5. Impaired concentration and memory: Chronic pain can affect cognitive functions and lead to difficulty concentrating and memory problems.
  6. Changes in mood: Pain can affect mood, ranging from frustration and anger to boredom and hopelessness.
  7. Social isolation: Because of the pain, people may withdraw from social activities.
  8. Increased sensitivity: Some people with chronic pain may experience increased sensitivity to stimuli such as light, sound or touch, known as allodynia or hyperalgesia.

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What happens psychologically?

The root cause of the pain is often not psychological but it can be influenced by psychological factors. It is possible to work with this in treatment and you can influence your health. If you have chronic pain, you can also develop psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression, and you can also get help with these.

What can you do about chronic pain?

If you have chronic pain, you can get treatment for it but also work on lifestyle factors. Here we go through what that might mean. It is possible to feel better.

Chronic pain treatment

The treatment of chronic pain is usually multimodal based on a biopsychosocial model, which means that biological, psychological and social factors are taken into account in the treatment. This may involve treatment with medication, physiotherapy, psychological treatment and lifestyle changes. If necessary, surgery may also be required. The team works together to provide a holistic approach to the patient. Treatment is tailored to the individual’s needs and is often provided in clinics specializing in pain management. To receive treatment, you can get a referral from your health center.


12 common questions and answers about chronic pain

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is pain that lasts for at least three to six months.

Is it a diagnosis?

Long-term pain is now a single diagnosis, it does not have to be linked to a specific event.

What is the difference between acute and chronic pain?

In acute pain, you get signals that something is not right in your body. The pain comes on suddenly and can last for a while but then passes, unlike chronic pain.

What diseases and conditions can cause pain?

Pain can develop from spinal problems, joint problems, neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS), cancer, migraine, fibromyalgia and inflammatory diseases, among others. Psychological factors can also have an impact where, for example, depression and anxiety can cause pain to continue.

What are the symptoms of chronic pain?

Chronic pain affects several different parts, both functional level with work and relationships, cognition and emotion. For example, it can cause isolation, loss of appetite and sleep problems. It is important to get help if you experience this.

What treatments are available for chronic pain?

The treatment of chronic pain is usually multimodal, based on a biopsychosocial model, which means that biological, psychological and social factors are taken into account in the treatment. It is possible to get a referral from your health center. For milder pain, we at Lavendla can help you.

Can you live with chronic pain?

Many people with long-term pain feel that it takes over their everyday life, so it is important to seek treatment and rehabilitation. It is possible to feel better.

What should I consider if I have chronic pain?

Untreated anxiety can lead to depression and other mental health problems.

Can you have other problems while suffering from chronic pain?

It is important to be physically active and do things that you enjoy. Working on self-acceptance and self-compassion are also important components.

How can I support someone close to me who is suffering from chronic pain?

Listen, try to be patient and encourage them to seek professional help.

How much does therapy at Lavendla cost?

At Lavendla, the therapists and coaches set the price themselves. A therapy session normally lasts 45 minutes and costs between 800-1300 SEK. How many therapy sessions are needed for grief processing, personal development, stress management, or what you need help with, you decide in consultation with the therapist. On the first occasion you meet, it usually focuses on getting to know each other, defining the challenges that exist and then setting up a plan for how you will work together to achieve your goals.

Where can I go if I need help?

At Lavendla, we have experienced psychologists and therapists who work with CBT and can help you feel better if you have mild symptoms. If you have more severe symptoms, you can contact your health center to get a referral to a specialist psychiatrist. If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide, contact 112 or the nearest emergency room.

Living with chronic pain

Many people with long-term pain feel that it takes over their everyday life, so it is important to seek treatment and rehabilitation. It is also important to be physically active and do things that you enjoy. Working on acceptance and self-compassion are also important components.

How therapy can help with chronic pain

Talking to a licensed psychologist can give you tools to understand and manage your symptoms. It can also significantly increase your quality of life and make it easier to manage emotions in everyday life. At Lavendla we can do light treatments but for more severe pain it is better to seek specialized care.

The benefits of seeking help

By going to treatment, you can get concrete methods and steps to improve your situation. When you seek help, it is always confidential and our therapists are trained to deal with your particular problem in a professional manner.

Your next step

By seeking help, you are not showing signs of weakness, but of strength. As it is an active choice to get the support you need, you can improve your life situation. Professional help is available and even if you are not ready to take the step today, you can always book a 20- or 45-minute session with our therapists and psychologists. Before starting a treatment, a 20-minute conversation can be a good start to feel what it’s like to see a licensed psychologist. We are here, ready to make the difficult easier.

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Written by Ellen Lindgren

Licensed psychologist

Ellen is a licensed psychologist and has experience mainly in clinical psychology where she has worked with various conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, crises and trauma in primary care and psychiatry. She has also worked with research while studying in the US and with affective disorders and insomnia at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.