Chronic pain can be debilitating to live with and can interfere with all aspects of daily life. Pain is generally considered chronic if it lasts 6 months or more, and chronic pain may remain constant, or it can come and go. The quality of the pain can be tingling, jolting, burning, dull, aching or sharp. The cause of chronic pain often isn’t well understood. There may be no evidence of disease or damage that points directly to pain.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the lining of the joints, causing a painful swelling that can eventually lead to bone erosion and joint deformity. This condition is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues.
Bell's palsy is a condition where the nerve that controls the facial muscles becomes swollen or compressed, causing sudden facial paralysis or weakness on one side of the face and making it difficult to smile or close the eye on the affected side. Symptoms may include facial droop and difficulty with facial expressions, pain behind or in front of the ear on the affected side, sounds that seem louder on the affected side, headaches, loss of taste, and changes in the amount of tears and saliva the body produces.
Whiplash is a common neck injury that often occurs during rear-end automobile collisions, but it can also occur from other activities such as contact sports or amusement park rides. The head suddenly moves backward and then forward, causing tissue damage known as whiplash. These extreme motions push your neck muscles and ligaments beyond their normal range of motion, usually resulting in an acute sprain of the spinal ligaments and joints, most frequently in the C3- C6 vertebrae. Whiplash symptoms can occur immediately after the injury, or may develop after a few days following the injury.
Nausea is a common ailment with many different causes, from stomach flu, morning sickness and medications to vertigo, motion sickness, migraines, surgery, cancer treatment, the foods we eat, and GERD, among many others. Morning sickness is a type of nausea commonly experienced during the first trimester of pregnancy. It varies in severity and there is no clear cause, although it is thought to be the result of hormonal changes in the body.
Chest pain is one of the most common reasons people call for emergency medical help. The first thing that crosses our mind with chest pain is that we may be having a heart attack. Fortunately, chest pain doesn't always signal a heart attack and it is often unrelated to any heart problem.
Tennis elbow (lateral epicondylitis) is an overuse injury that affects the area where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the bony part of the outside elbow. This causes pain in the outside of the elbow, which can also radiate from the outside of the elbow into the forearm and wrist. There can be pain when you extend your wrist and pain during certain activities such as shaking hands, turning a doorknob, or holding certain objects, such as a coffee cup.
The upper back is a section of 12 vertebrae, where the rib cage connects to the spine. Upper back pain can be a common problem for a few reasons, a lot of which have to do with our lifestyle. Because we spend a lot of time sitting, we can put extra strain on the upper back as well as create postural problems. This, combined with lack of exercise which weakens the muscles in the upper back, can lead to upper back pain. Also, many of us carry tension in the shoulders, neck, and upper back, leading to further pain.
Leg pain can occur anywhere from the hip down to the heel, and can come in many forms, such as pain that is constant versus intermittent, pain that develops suddenly versus gradually, or pain that affects the entire leg versus a certain area such as the knee or shin. The quality of the pain can also range, from dull and aching to tingling or sharp and stabbing.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition characterized by a constant dull pain throughout the body accompanied by fatigue and sleep disturbances. Symptoms can vary depending on the weather, stress, physical activity, and even time of day. Generally the pain is widespread and occurs in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, along with especially sore spots called “tender points” on various areas of the body.
Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery stools, bloating, and abdominal cramps or pain, as well as more frequent trips to the toilet. Acute diarrhea is something that nearly everyone has likely experienced at one time or another and usually lasts only a couple of days. Chronic diarrhea, however, typically lasts longer and can be a discomfort and disruption to our lives.
A cough is our body’s way of responding to irritants in the throat and airways. A cough that persists for long periods of time is not just frustrating, it can interfere with daily life and ruin a good night’s sleep. Chronic cough can usually be resolved by treating the underlying problem, however the difficulty is in figuring out what exactly is the cause. The most common causes are postnasal drip, asthma, and acid reflux, but it can also be caused by GERD, medications, and respiratory tract conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, or an infection, among other things.
Constipation is a frequent gastrointestinal problem that can cause a lot of discomfort and put strain on the digestive system. Fortunately, constipation is usually temporary, but chronic constipation can cause further problems or can be a sign of an underlying disorder. A number of factors can cause constipation, including not drinking enough fluids, eating a poor diet or not enough fiber, not enough physical activity, illness, long term use of laxatives, or it can be a result of certain medications or diseases.
With stress so common in our lives today, more and more people are suffering from anxiety. Ongoing anxiety can interfere with day-to-day activities and relationships and when this happens, it may be diagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Anxiety can develop from a combination of stress, personality, gender, and life events such as an illness or past troubles. Those suffering from generalized anxiety experience symptoms such as constant over-thinking and worrying, restlessness, irritability, muscle tension, and fatigue.
The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway bound by bones and ligaments located on the inside of your wrist. It protects the main nerve to your hand and the tendons that bend your fingers. When there is pressure placed on the nerve, it produces numbness, tingling, pain and over time, loss of strength in the hand, a condition that is known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Pressure on the nerve can stem from anything that reduces the space for it in the carpal tunnel.
Between the heel bone and the toes runs a strong fascia or ligament. It is made of connective tissue and supports the arch of the foot. The foot has two arches, a length arch and a width arch. The length arch is the one most commonly affected by plantar fasciitis. When the arch is round and strong the bones of the foot are in the right position and there is balance in the foot. When the arch flattens, a lot of strain on the bones and surrounding ligaments is created, resulting in pain, which can easily become excruciating, if not treated properly.
Night sweats, or sleep hyperhidrosis, are episodes of excessive night time sweating even when your bedroom isn’t excessively hot. It is a fairly common problem, with many people experiencing them from time to time. Night sweating usually isn’t considered a serious medical concern, however it can be uncomfortable when it occurs regularly or interferes with sleep.
Golfer's elbow, or medial epicondylitis, involves pain and inflammation on the inner side of the elbow, where the tendons of the forearm muscles attach to the bony bump on the inside of the elbow. Symptoms include pain and tenderness on the inner side of the elbow (which may spread into the forearm and wrist), stiffness in the elbow, weakness in the hands and wrists, and numbness or tingling in one or more fingers (usually the ring and little fingers).
Fatigue is a feeling that most of us have probably experienced at one time or another. Whether from stress, poor eating habits, sleep deprivation, overwork, or even medical treatments, fatigue often has a lot to do with our habits and routines, though it can sometimes be caused by an underlying medical condition. But sometimes in spite of what we do, fatigue can become an ongoing problem. In severe cases, it may be diagnosed as chronic fatigue syndrome, a complicated disorder without obvious onset or causes.
Abdominal pain is pain and discomfort experienced anywhere in your torso between your chest and your pelvis. Abdominal pain may appear as an accompanying symptom to many diseases such as abdominal masses, appendicitis, hernia, and many gynecological disturbances. In many cases of abdominal pain, no definitive diagnosis can be made, and is considered benign.
Frequent urination can have wide-ranging causes, whether due to a medical condition such as diabetes or a neurological disorder, or from poor kidney function, urinary tract inflammation, bladder infection, or certain medications. In many cases, doctors are unable to exactly identify what’s causing this symptom but nonetheless it can be an uncomfortable and difficult problem to live with.
Dizziness is one of the most common reasons adults visit their doctors. Although it may seriously interfere with a person’s day-to-day life, it is usually not indicative of a serious or life-threatening condition. Dizziness can be caused by many things such as an ear infection, stroke, migraine, heart problems, or anxiety disorders.
Heart palpitations are the sensation of rapid, fluttering, or pounding heartbeats. Common causes of heartbeats include anxiety, stress, exercise, caffeine, nicotine, fever, hormonal changes in women (due to pregnancy, menses, or menopause), and certain medications. Heart palpitations may sometimes be a sign of an underlying disorder such as hyperthyroidism or abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia).
Frozen shoulder, also known as adhesive capsulitis, is a condition where there is stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint leading to a limited range of motion in the joint. Frozen shoulder usually only affects one shoulder, but some people may eventually develop it in the other shoulder as well. This condition usually develops slowly, over a period of months. The shoulder starts out in the painful stage, where pain occurs with movement and the range of motion begins to become limited. Gradually there is a decrease in pain along with a drastic decrease in the range of motion of the shoulder.
Sweating is the body’s mechanism to cool itself and in most cases it is a natural and healthy response. But some people suffer from what is called hyperhidrosis- frequent or constant excessive sweating, much more than is needed to maintain a normal body temperature. Usually this happens on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and the underarms, and may also happen on the head or the chest.
Cervical spondylosis is a neck condition due to age-related wear and tear to the neck vertebrae. There can be soreness, distention, radiating pain or heaviness of the neck, shoulder, arm or head, and even numbness of the fingers. It is usually seen in patients over the age of forty. The cause is commonly due to degeneration of the discs and cervical vertebra which stimulates or oppresses the spinal cord or surrounding nerves in the neck region.
Migraines are severe, chronic headaches that can cause significant pain for 4 to 72 hours. The frequency with which these headaches occur varies from person to person, from several times a month to much less frequently. A typical migraine attack may include symptoms of moderate to severe pain on one or both sides of the head, head pain with a pulsating or throbbing quality, pain that worsens with physical activity, pain that interferes with regular activities, nausea, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.
Menopause is the transitional phase of a woman’s life when menstrual function ceases, which typically spans a 2-5 year period. During this time, hormonal levels in the body are fluctuating, as estrogen and progesterone levels gradually decline and the body responds by producing higher than normal levels of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). The main symptoms likely to be experienced (with varying degrees of severity) are headaches, tiredness, lethargy, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, depression, insomnia, inability to concentrate, hot flashes, and sweating.
Insomnia is one of the most common medical complaints- more than one-third of adults have insomnia at one time or another, while 10-15% suffer from chronic insomnia. With insomnia, a person usually awakes feeling unrefreshed, over-fatigued and has a hard time concentrating during the day. Insomnia can cause daytime fatigue or sleepiness, as well as irritability, depression or anxiety, a loss in concentration and focus on tasks, increased errors or accidents, tension headaches and gastro-intestinal problems.
Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis or seasonal allergies, is an allergic response to indoor or outdoor airborn allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander. This causes cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, sneezing and sinus pressure. For many people, hay fever is seasonal, worse at certain times of year, especially in the spring, summer or fall. But some people experience hay fever year-round. Hay fever affects about 1 in 5 people and can begin at any age but is most likely to develop in childhood or early adulthood.
Headaches are a common ailment and can make life very difficult. Headaches can have a wide range of causes, but often the causes are not well understood by Western medicine, and in most cases do not have an identifiable underlying physical cause. To make matters worse, headaches can often be a rebound effect of the very medication that people take to relieve them. Medications are usually the standard treatment method, however some chronic daily headaches are resistant to all medications.
The knee is a complex joint that works much like the hinge of a door, allowing the joint to move backward and forward, but also has the ability to twist and rotate. This makes the knee joints especially vulnerable to damage, which is why they typically sustain more injuries than do other joints.
Anemia is a condition where there are not enough red blood cells in the blood to carry oxygen to the tissues. There are many different kinds of anemia, each with its own symptoms. The main symptoms of anemia are tiredness and fatigue. Further symptoms include weakness, pale skin, headaches, numbness or coldness in the arms and legs, problems thinking, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, and dizziness.
Shingles (herpes zoster) is a viral infection that causes a painful skin rash with fluid-filled blisters. The rash is usually limited to one side of the body, occuring along the spine and running towards the chest and abdomen, but it can also appear on the head or on the arms and legs on one side. Normally the blisters disappear within a couple of days to weeks, but the pain remains. Shingles causes symptoms of pain, burning, numbness,tingling, and itching. It may also be accompanied by fever and chills, general achiness, headaches, and fatigue.
The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body, running from the spinal cord to the buttock and hip area and down the back of each leg, and about the size of your little finger. Sciatica is a condition where the sciatic nerve is irritated. The most telltale symptom of sciatica is pain that radiates along the path of the sciatic nerve- from the lumbar area to the buttock and down the back of the leg. The pain can be anywhere from a mild ache to a severe sharp or burning pain, numbness or weak muscles along the nerve pathway, and tingling or pins and needles feeling in the toes or foot.
GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is commonly known as chronic heartburn or acid reflux, because of the burning sensation in the chest and sometimes throat, as well as a sour taste in the mouth, which are tell-tale symptoms. Heartburn is a symptom of a condition in which stomach acid or occasionally bile flows back into the esophagus. This constant backwash or reflux can irritate the lining of the food pipe and cause inflammation, and lead to further problems such as ulcers and constricting of the esophagus.
Tinnitus is a sensation of hearing noise when no external sound is present. It is a ringing, buzzing, clicking, whistling, hissing, or roaring sound that can vary in pitch and can come and go or be present all the time. In many cases the sound can be so severe that it can interfere with a person’s daily activities or even sleep. Tinnitus is not a condition itself but a symptom of an underlying condition such as hearing loss, ear injury, or a circulatory disorder. It is a difficult problem to live with and can cause fatigue, stress, sleeping problems, trouble with concentration and memory, and depression, anxiety and irritability.
The eye is the special sensory organ which in Chinese Medicine is directly connected to the liver. The eyes require nourishment from the liver in order to see properly- if the liver is unable to do its job properly there can be blurred vision, floaters, colour blindness, dryness, soreness, itchiness, and other eye disorders. If problems continue uncorrected over time, they can develop into cataracts, or a clouding of the lens of the eye.
Hair loss and balding, or alopecia, typically refers to excessive hair loss from the scalp and can be experienced by men, women, and children of any age. There are many types of hair loss and balding, however the focus of this article is health-related hair loss rather than genetic hair loss such as receding hair line and baldness. Health-related hair loss may include patch balding, sudden hair loss, or gradual hair thinning over time.
Eczema is an itchy eruption of the skin that is usually more common in children but can appear in adulthood. Eczema symptoms include discoloured patches of skin, itching which may be worse at night and can be quite severe, small, raised bumps that may leak fluid and crust over when scratched, and thickened, cracked, or scaly skin. Patches most often occur on hands, wrists, arms, feet, ankles, face, neck and upper chest, and behind the knees.