Chronic primary pain, also known as idiopathic pain, is a type of pain that is not caused by an underlying condition or injury. It is considered “primary” because it is the main condition or injury causing the pain, rather than a complication or side effect of another condition or injury.
Examples of chronic primary pain include chronic headaches, chronic low back pain and fibromyalgia. These types of pain can be caused by a variety of factors, most importantly an over-sensitised, or ‘overprotective’ nervous system and is driven by changes in the way the brain processes pain signals. It usually lasts for more than six months.
Chronic primary pain is also called “non-specific pain” because no specific cause can be found for the pain. It is classified as nociplastic pain, or pain that is primarily caused by an ‘over sensitised’ nervous system. People often use the terms ‘central sensitisation’ and ‘nociplastic pain’ interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Central sensitisation is believed to be the underlying mechanism for nociplastic pain.