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25 Physical Symptoms of Chronic Pain (That Aren't 'Just' Pain)

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When you have a chronic pain condition, probably the most frustrating and debilitating symptom you experience is (obviously) pain. But what many healthy people may not realize is that chronic pain encompasses so much more than just pain.

In addition to the major impact it can have on your lifestyle, abilities and day-to-day activities, chronic pain can also produce a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms. Maybe high pain levels cause you to feel sick to your stomach, or perhaps flare-ups of your pain condition lead to stiffness and swelling. Or for many, experiencing constant pain can take a toll on your mental health, causing depression, anxiety or feelings of guilt or hopelessness.

It’s important to learn about all the symptoms and side effects of chronic pain a person may experience to better understand the full impact of the condition on their life. So, we asked our Mighty community to share the physical symptoms or side effects of chronic pain they experience (beyond the pain). Let us know how pain affects you in the comments below.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. Severe, prolonged tiredness on a mental, physical and emotional level. It’s not fatigue, its being completely and utterly spent so even eating and drinking seem like mammoth tasks. It’s not depression, you just don’t have anything left.” – Kat B.
  2. “Visual auras and discoloration of limbs.” – Jamie T.
  3. For me it’s anxiety. My pain fluctuates so I don’t know when it will strike at its worst, or if it will come during activity and make me ‘look weird’ (like limping or flinching).” – Cayleigh M.
  4. Clumsiness/loss of space awareness. I walk into things, trip over, drop things.” – Joanne T.
  5. Painsomnia! I’m in bed 12 hours on average every night but I’m lucky to sleep eight and that’s typically broken as well. My exhaustion just feeds my fatigue from pain and listening to a heavily auditory world with severe hearing loss.” – Sammi V.
  6. Deafness and intense introspection.” – Rex K.
  7. I often get horrible stiffness, especially after getting out of bed in the mornings or after I have been riding in a car or on an airplane for more than 30 minutes. Brief inactivity seems to set cement into my joints. After deplaning from my most recent flight to Puerto Vallarta (a three-hour flight), an airline employee asked me if I needed a wheelchair because I was hobbling so badly up the jetway due to pain and stiffness.” – Tonya W.
  8. Nausea. My pain levels typically leave me exhausted. But on a bad day, I’ll be nauseated and dizzy and often spend a fair amount of the day vomiting and feeling just utterly wretched.” – Stephanie W.
  9. Severely swollen limbs (from fingers/toes to hands/feet to arms/legs) that become impossible to move and use. That paired with hypersensitivity, it’s almost as bad as the pain itself. Almost.” – Sian E.
  10. Exhaustion, blurred vision, dehydration from sweating due to pain flares, delayed responses to stimuli.” – Angela S.
  11. Fatigue. Honestly some days I hate it more then the pain. It robs you of so much more. I am able to push through pain with the help of medication but there is nothing to help with fatigue, I am at its total mercy. It makes me feel so worthless.” – Mindy C.
  12. It’s the constipation and regurgitation! I would love to be able to have two days in a row where those two symptoms aren’t there! The regurgitation gets worse if I don’t have a ‘BM’ for two days.” – Kat Z.
  13. Blood pressure spikes and irritability.” – Sarah C.
  14. Dread. I find myself dreading the next day that’s intolerable. I dread cold weather, eating out in cold, air-conditioned restaurants, the fear of not sleeping well, and becoming ‘the sick girl’ in my workplaces. Dread is a big part of my daily life which I believe drives my anxiety, and has to be counterbalanced with positive affirmations regularly.” – Brandi M.
  15. Neuropathy that feels like electric currents running through my muscles and bones, skin that feels wet when it’s dry, pins and needles in so many places.” – Lisa B.
  16. Gastritis. Nothing lets you know your flare is in full swing like vomiting at 1:30.” – Cassandra B.
  17. I walk differently when I’m having a flare. I don’t limp necessarily, but the way I walk changes, if that makes sense. Things like posture, the length of my strides, balance, timing of my steps, etc. are all significantly off. I was stopped by a cop in a parking lot once, he ended up being concerned but said that other cops might have given me a really hard time.” – Jacqulyn S.
  18. Headaches that sometimes turn into migraines.” – Letia N.
  19. Extreme exhaustion. Getting very little sleep and trying to work and function normally is hard with chronic pain.” – Kyla M.
  20. I get a twitch in my face. It doesn’t hurt, it’s just annoying. Also, I lose the ability to speak clearly. Very annoying but not physically painful.” – Erica S.
  21. Severe upper stomach pain radiating through to the back caused by slow release painkillers. You never know when it’s going to strike but lasts up to 45 minutes even with extra stomach tablets. Palpitation and tachycardia causing severe distress and need for ambulance who think it’s just ‘stress’ when it’s painkillers again.” – Jayne G.
  22. I feel such intense fatigue. And I can’t concentrate. I have brain fog that makes it impossible to think through the pain.” – Nikki A.
  23. Teeth issues galore! I never had [this] before RSD [reflex sympathetic dystrophy].” – Ricki P.
  24. Nausea, vertigo, dizziness, syncope, tinnitus and insomnia. They are almost worse than the pain.” – Renne R.
  25. There are different levels of pain, and everyone has their own tolerance levels. My symptoms can change as does my tolerance level at different points in my life. One symptom that never changes, and one that I seem to have passed on to my children is, I get physically sick. If the pain is 20 on a 10 scale, it will actually make me lightheaded, clammy, weak and sick to my stomach. I always knew when my kids were hurt badly due to the change in their color, look in their eyes and the need to vomit.” – Tammy C.M.
Originally published: April 4, 2018
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