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6 Different Types of Chronic Pain



6 Different Types of Chronic Pain - blog image

Chronic Pain

Many don’t realize that September is Pain Awareness Month, a month dedicated to bringing awareness to various forms of chronic pain. The first step of awareness is education, especially when chronic pain isn’t always understood by those who don’t deal with it everyday. In fact, some believe chronic pain is psychological or something you can “just get over.” It’s this type of reasoning why we dedicate entire months to causes like these. With that in mind, here’s a categorical rundown of chronic and the diseases they fall under.

 

Nociceptive Pain

This is our body’s primary mechanism for detecting pain using specialized nerve receptors called nociceptors. These receptors are integral for sending pain stimuli to the spine and brain for interpretation and response. Typically once damage is repaired, nociceptors should stop sending signals to the spine and brain; however, sometimes they don’t, which can lead to chronic pain.

Chronic back pain

Somatic & Visceral Pain

There are two types of nociceptive pain: somatic and visceral. Somatic pain is detected in the skin and muscle tissue while visceral pain stems from internal organs. While somatic pain can usually be located—such as a paper cut or straining a leg muscle—visceral pain can be more difficult to localize, as internal organs don’t have as many nociceptors. As a result, this can lead to body sensations in unrelated areas.Pain of this type is usually managed with NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen).     

Examples:

  • Headaches
  • Arthritis
  • Pelvic pain (not caused by nerve damage)
  • Fibromyalgia

Neuropathic Pain

Like nociceptive pain, neuropathic pain also involves nerves. But unlike nociceptive pain, where the nerves are acting normally, neuropathic nerves are damaged or irritated. Neuropathic pain is often described as sharp or stabbing pain, descriptions associated with low-quality of life. Pain of of this caliber is often found in cases of diabetes and amputation.The source of neuropathic pain varies widely, as it can stem from trauma or congenital diseases.

Examples:

  • Sciatica
  • Neuralgia
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
Neuropathic Pain - blog image

Psychogenic Pain

As the name suggests, psychogenic pain is pain that stems from psychological factors such depression or anxiety. In other words, this form of pain doesn’t always have a physical cause. This makes psychogenic pain more prone to misconception from those in and outside the medical community. Complicating psychogenic pain is its cause, which is highly variable, ranging from fears and emotions to well-known disorders. Whatever the source, pain can manifest itself in the head, stomach, muscles, and elsewhere. Overall, psychogenic pain is personal pain.
Diagnosis and treatments also vary. Without physical evidence, physicians can only uncover psychological triggers with therapy or medication. Those with psychogenic pain often spend time in medical offices looking for answers or staying home because the pain is too great. This can lead to frequent work or school absence and, in severe cases, chemical dependency.

Idiopathic Pain

Idiopathic pain is perhaps the hardest to diagnose because it’s pain that doesn’t a physical or psychological source. In other words, current medical knowledge or technology cannot find a diagnosis. Like psychogenic pain, it’s important to realize that this pain is real.

Examples:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

If you’re dealing with pain, it’s important to not ignore it. This means speaking with a physician as soon as possible. Waiting may only exacerbate the symptoms. There is no gain in pain.

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