Chronic Pain Syndrome vs Fibromyalgia: Everything You Need to Know

By

Ben Ahrens, HHP

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Published on

April 9, 2024

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Updated on

April 12, 2024

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Robert Stevens

Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain can be debilitating, affecting not only your physical well-being but also your overall quality of life. Two conditions that often perplex individuals and medical professionals alike are Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS) and Fibromyalgia. Understanding the differences between these conditions is crucial for effective management and finding the right treatment plan.

In this article, we will delve into the characteristics of CPS and Fibromyalgia, explore their distinctions, and explore cutting-edge brain research that points to self-directed neuroplasticity (also known as “brain retraining”) as a promising new approach for improving chronic pain symptoms. Join re-origin’s brain retraining program to experience the difference that brain retraining can make for CPS and Fibromyalgia.

What is Chronic Pain Syndrome? 

Chronic Pain Syndrome refers to persistent pain lasting beyond six months,1 which may or may not have a clear underlying cause. This condition can manifest differently for individuals, with pain being its primary feature. The diagnostic criteria for CPS can be broad, considering the duration of pain rather than specific symptoms. In addition to pain, CPS can be associated with various symptoms, including sleep disturbances, fatigue, and mood disorders. 

The most common types of pain in chronic pain syndrome:  

Back Pain 

Chronic back pain has various causes, such as muscle strains, herniated discs, and spinal conditions like arthritis or spinal stenosis.

Headaches & Migraines 

Chronic headaches and migraines are recurring and can significantly impact daily life. They often involve throbbing pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and other possible symptoms.

Arthritis Pain 

Arthritis pain is caused by inflammation of the joints, leading to chronic pain. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and gout are common forms that cause joint pain and stiffness.

Neuropathic Pain 

This type of pain arises from damage or dysfunction in the nervous system. Conditions like peripheral neuropathy, diabetic neuropathy, or post-herpetic neuralgia can result in chronic neuropathic pain.

Fibromyalgia 

Fibromyalgia is a complex disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and cognitive difficulties. It often causes chronic pain in multiple areas of the body.

Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain 

This category includes chronic pain that affects the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissues. Conditions like myofascial pain syndrome, repetitive strain injuries, or fibromyalgia (mentioned above) fall into this category.

Chronic Head and Neck Pain 

Chronic pain in the head, neck, and face can result from conditions like tension headaches, temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), or muscular neck issues.

It's important to note that chronic pain can manifest in various ways, and individuals may experience combinations or variations of these types. Additionally, each person's experience of chronic pain can differ in terms of severity and impact on daily functioning. Consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate management of your chronic pain.

The Brain’s Role In Chronic Pain 

Pain typically serves as a warning signal produced by our brain to alert us to potential harm to our body. However, it may be possible to experience pain even when there is no actual threat.

When the brain repeatedly encounters pain, the neural pathways associated with pain become sensitized. As a result, the brain "learns" the pain, and it can persist as a chronic condition.

The brain's learning process regarding pain is influenced by fear and avoidance. When we fear and actively avoid pain, we inadvertently reinforce the perception that the pain is dangerous. This reinforcement creates a vicious cycle: the pain triggers fear and avoidance, and in turn, the fear and avoidance contribute additional pain.

Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) emphasizes that the brain can actively produce chronic pain even in the absence of tissue damage. In addition, it suggests that reevaluating the causes and perceived threat of pain can reduce or eliminate it.

Typically, when we focus on our pain, we automatically brace ourselves, anticipating its severity and potentially worsening the sensation. We also contemplate how the pain might hinder our ability to perform certain activities. While these responses are natural and originally intended to protect us, they reinforce the brain's perception of danger, thereby maintaining the activation of pain signals.

Somatic tracking offers an alternative approach. Instead of perceiving pain through a lens of danger, somatic tracking encourages us to view it from a safety standpoint.

 These above insights shed light on the nature and treatment of primary chronic pain. By altering beliefs that induce fear and avoidance regarding the causes and threat level of pain, significant and long-lasting pain relief may be achieved for individuals with primary chronic pain.

Treatment Options for Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS)

Current treatment approaches for CPS focus on managing pain, addressing underlying factors, and improving overall well-being. 

While there is a wide range of treatments available for chronic pain,2 the most appropriate approach depends on the specific type and underlying cause of the pain. However, here are seven commonly prescribed treatments for chronic pain:

Medications

Various medications can be prescribed to manage chronic pain, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), opioids, muscle relaxants, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and topical analgesics. The choice of medication depends on the type and severity of pain and individual patient factors.

Physical Therapy 

Physical therapy aims to improve pain and function through targeted exercises, stretches, manual therapy, and modalities like heat, ice, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation. Physical therapists develop treatment plans to address specific pain sources and promote mobility and strength.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

CBT is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on modifying dysfunctional thoughts, emotions, and behaviors related to pain. It helps individuals develop coping strategies, relaxation techniques, and adaptive responses to pain, reducing the impact of pain on daily life.

Interventional Procedures 

Certain chronic pain conditions may benefit from interventional procedures. Examples include nerve blocks, epidural steroid injections, radiofrequency ablation, spinal cord stimulation, or intrathecal drug delivery systems. These procedures target specific pain generators or interrupt pain signals.

Complementary and Alternative Therapies 

Complementary and alternative therapies can supplement traditional treatments. Examples include acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic care, herbal remedies, meditation, and relaxation techniques. These additional therapies can reduce pain, improve relaxation, and enhance overall well-being.

Exercise and Rehabilitation Programs: 

Regular exercise, tailored to the individual's abilities and limitations, can help manage chronic pain. Programs may include aerobic exercises, strength training, flexibility exercises, or aquatic therapy. Exercise promotes physical conditioning, releases endorphins (natural pain-relieving chemicals), and improves mood.

Multidisciplinary Pain Management Programs 

These programs involve a comprehensive and coordinated approach to pain management. They include a combination of medical treatments, physical therapy, psychological support, and educational components. The goal is to address pain from various aspects and improve overall quality of life.

It's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional specializing in pain management to determine the most suitable treatment plan for your individual needs and circumstances. Treatment may involve a combination of approaches tailored to the specific type and severity of chronic pain.

Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 

Fibromyalgia, on the other hand, is a specific disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and tender areas. Fibromyalgia is diagnosed using specific criteria, including the presence of tender points on the body, which can help differentiate it from other chronic pain conditions. Individuals with fibromyalgia often experience additional symptoms such as sleep disturbances, cognitive difficulties, and mood disorders. Conventional treatment methods for fibromyalgia involve a multidisciplinary approach, including medications, physical therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and lifestyle modifications.

Chronic Pain Syndrome vs. Fibromyalgia: Key Differences

While chronic pain is a common element in both CPS and Fibromyalgia, there are distinctive characteristics that set them apart. One significant difference lies in the pain distribution patterns. CPS is not limited to specific tender points and can occur in various areas of the body, while Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread pain, often associated with tender points. Furthermore, fibromyalgia is known to present additional symptoms such as cognitive difficulties, fatigue, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), whereas CPS may or may not be accompanied by these symptoms. Understanding these differences is crucial for accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plans.

The Role of Brain Retraining in Chronic Pain Management

An emerging and promising science-backed approach in chronic pain management is brain retraining. Recent scientific advancements have illuminated the connection between the brain and chronic pain, highlighting the role of neuroplasticity. The re-origin brain retraining program utilizes self-directed neuroplasticity to rewire neural pathways and change the brain's response to pain stimuli. By addressing the underlying neurological processes, re-origin® aims to provide lasting pain relief and improve overall well-being.

Benefits of re-origin for Chronic Pain Syndrome and Fibromyalgia

The re-origin program is a cutting-edge and science-based brain retraining solution for individuals with both CPS and Fibromyalgia. Through a comprehensive approach encompassing education, exercises, and practical techniques, the program empowers individuals to take control of and reframe their relationship with pain. By retraining the brain's response to pain, individuals can experience a reduction in pain intensity and frequency, improved sleep, increased energy levels, and enhanced mental health. The program also addresses the underlying factors contributing to chronic pain, such as chronic stress and inflammation, helping individuals regain control over their lives.

Embracing a Brighter Future

Living with chronic pain can be overwhelming, but it is essential to remember there is hope for a brighter future. Brain retraining with re-origin® offers an inspiring, hopeful path toward lasting relief, improved quality of life, and a sense of empowerment. By harnessing the power of self-directed neuroplasticity, individuals can rewrite their pain narrative, embark on a journey of healing and recovery, and unleash their natural potential.

Conclusion 

Chronic Pain Syndrome and Fibromyalgia are complex conditions that require a comprehensive understanding and personalized treatment approach. While conventional methods have provided some relief, the integration of brain retraining with re-origin opens up new possibilities for individuals seeking lasting relief from chronic pain.

By embracing the power of neuroplasticity and self-directed healing, individuals with CPS and Fibromyalgia can reclaim their lives and find solace in a future free from the grips of persistent pain. Remember, your journey toward healing begins with the belief in your own innate capacity for recovery and the willingness to explore innovative and science-backed treatment options. To get started, join the re-origin program

References

  1. Russo, C., & Brose, W. G. (1998). Chronic pain. Annual Review of Medicine, 49(1), 123–133. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.med.49.1.123
  2. Dydyk, A. M., & Conermann, T. (2023, July 21). Chronic pain. StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK553030/

By

Ben Ahrens, HHP

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