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HealthInfo Canterbury

About persistent pain

Persistent pain is pain that continues past the time you were expected to recover from an injury or illness. It is also called chronic pain. It is like a fire alarm continuing to go off after the fire has been put out.

In this TED video, paediatric anaesthesiologist Elliot Krane explains the "positive feedback loop" of chronic, or persistent, pain, and what it feels like for sufferers. Sometimes persistent pain can happen without any obvious trigger.

Persistent pain can be disabling, draining and frustrating. It can also affect your relationships with family and whānau, friends and work colleagues.

Understanding persistent pain will help you to move forward with your life. The video Understanding pain: What to do about it in less than five minutes explains more about persistent pain, and some things you can do to help overcome it.

Do I have persistent pain?

One in six people in New Zealand experience persistent pain at some point in their lives. If you have pain lasting for longer than three months, your doctor may diagnose you as having persistent, or chronic, pain. This can be a confusing and frustrating diagnosis, and you may have many questions. You will find some of the answers to those questions in Frequently asked questions about persistent pain.

Types of persistent pain

There are several different types of persistent pain. You can find out more about them through the following pages:

  HealthInfo recommends the following pages

On the next page: Diagnosing persistent pain

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by Burwood Pain Management Centre clinical coordinator.Reviewed June 2017.

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Page reference: 79019

Review key: HICHP-79018