This is a very new idea for many people – even health care professionals. But, it shouldn’t be.

Even people who live in pain every day sometimes don’t put all of the pieces together.

Sometimes, health care specialists only focus on one part of the problem – the original physical injury or illness itself. And then, if they can’t cure the injury or illness, they don’t go any further to understand all that may be going on.

It is more understandable for lawyers and insurance adjusters to not get the big picture – at least at first. It is their responsibility, though,  to keep listening and learning from their client, and from the health care reports, until they do get it.

This simple phrase says a lot – chronic pain is more than just pain.

Chronic pain is long-term pain that gathers additional components over time (like many chronic injuries or illnesses).  These parts include the pain symptoms themselves, of course.  And for many people, several parts of their body are in pain at the same time. (This is especially true for people with fibromyalgia.)

Other components include the limitations caused by pain symptoms and their physical causes, insomnia,  fatigue and the many ways that all of these parts can affect your mood, personality, relationships and life.

And then, there can be even more to the big picture.

Chronic pain can change people’s lives.  It can lead to serious losses of work, financial security, personal relationships and even marriages and families.  These changes can build up and worsen over time.

Chronic pain is more than just pain – and more than all of these secondary symptoms, limitations and losses.

Believe it or not, it is even more than all of these pieces added together. And that is because the pieces don’t just add together to create a much bigger problem, they also interact and affect each other.

For example, higher levels of pain cause more sleep problems. And, after days (or months) of poor sleep, your energy levels lower and your ability to tolerate your pain goes down.

Flare-ups and higher pain levels can also make you more limited causing greater problems at work and at home. When you become more limited, your depression can increase. You are at risk to take more medication.

I could go on with many examples of how each part can aggravate and worsen each other part. Pain is the main driving force but it is not the only force at work here. There are many working parts.

When you put it all together, it is not surprising that chronic pain is one of the world’s leading causes of disability.

And for any of you that are hard and unforgiving with yourself, let these ideas allow you a much needed break. Fighting pain (and all of the other parts) every day is hard enough. You deserve a break.

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Thank you for reading. Thank you to Alessandro Bianchi  (image above) and Rachel Walker (image below, both from Unsplash) for your creative work. Please feel free to steal, share and join our growing list of subscribers.

AND, please spread the word using the hashtag #RealPhysicalPain with all your social media.