Chronic Pain and How Outside Factors Can Impact Your Pain

Did you know that factors such as stress, lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, financial hardship, relationships or even just a difficult day can result in increased pain and long term chronic pain? 

Imagine a glass with just a few drops of water in it. This glass is an example of your tolerance to pain. When the glass is empty, you are far from your next pain flare up, life is going well and you’re in a good place. When you glass fills up, your pain becomes persistent and is at its worst. 

Things like stress, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep and worry all act like drops of water filling your glass until finally it reaches its peak. This is chronic, persistent pain. 

Thankfully, there are ways to prevent your glass from filling to its brim. There are medical professionals that may be able to assist you with depression and anxiety. Stress relief and stress management techniques are available including meditation and exercise and finally a good night’s sleep can help. 

 A second strategy is also available and involves increasing the size of your glass. This can be accomplished with slow, steady, progressive exercise, which has been proven to increase your capacity to tolerate pain and increase the size of your glass. 

Understanding the factors that fill your glass is the first step to managing your pain and preventing chronic, persistent pain. Give it a try!!


Heafner, J. Hall J. Making Sense of Pain: Stories and Analogies that Help Define Pain. OPTP. 2018; 50.


By Todd Sparks PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS