Understanding Pain

Pain & Injury


Article by John Miller


Understanding Pain:

Exploring its Types, Causes, and Impact on Well-being

What is Pain?

Pain, an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, involves physical and emotional components. It is a protective mechanism that alerts the body to potential harm and prompts appropriate actions to prevent further injury.

There are two primary types of pain:

Nociceptive Pain:

Specialised nerve endings called nociceptors detect tissue damage or potential injury, causing this type of pain. Nociceptors are found throughout the body, including the skin, muscles, bones, and organs. We can further categorise nociceptive pain as either somatic or visceral pain.

  • Stimulating nociceptors in the skin, muscles, joints, or bones results in somatic pain. People often describe it as sharp, localised, and well-defined pain.
  • Visceral pain arises from the activation of nociceptors in the internal organs. People typically describe it as a deep, dull, or cramping sensation less localised and more diffuse than somatic pain.

Neuropathic Pain:

Damage or dysfunction of the nervous system leads to this type of pain. Conditions like nerve compression, injury, or nervous system diseases can cause neuropathic pain. People often describe it as shooting, burning, tingling, or electric-like sensations. Neuropathic pain may persist even after the initial injury or damage has healed.

Pain, being a subjective experience, can vary from person to person. Factors such as individual pain tolerance, emotional state, cultural background, and previous experiences can influence the perception and expression of pain. Proper assessment and management of pain are essential to promote well-being and improve the quality of life for individuals experiencing pain.

Here are some common types of injuries and their associated pain:

Musculoskeletal Injuries:

This category encompasses sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations, and other injuries to the muscles, bones, ligaments, and tendons. It can range from sharp and intense to dull and aching. The pain typically localises to the affected area with these injuries.

Traumatic Injuries:

These injuries result from accidents, falls, sports injuries, or physical assaults. The pain associated with traumatic injuries can vary depending on the severity and location of the injury. Examples include concussions, contusions, lacerations, and deep tissue damage.

Overuse Injuries:

Overuse injuries occur due to repetitive stress or strain on a particular body part, such as tendinopathy, stress fractures, or carpal tunnel syndrome. Over time, these injuries often gradually develop, causing persistent, nagging pain that worsens with activity.

Nerve Injuries:

Damage or nerve compression can lead to conditions like pinched nerves, herniated discs, or neuropathies. People often describe nerve pain as shooting, burning, or electric-like sensations that can radiate along the path of the affected nerve.

Postoperative Pain:

Pain experienced after surgery is a common occurrence. The intensity and nature of postoperative pain can vary depending on the type and extent of the surgical procedure. Healthcare professionals typically manage postoperative pain with appropriate medication while closely monitoring the patient.


It’s important to note that pain perception can be subjective, and individuals may experience pain differently, even with similar injuries. Consulting with a healthcare professional is always recommended for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for pain or injury.

Pain FAQs


Page, S. (2015). The Neuroanatomy and Physiology of Pain Perception in the Developing Human. Issues in Law & Medicine, 30(2), 227.

PHYSIOLOGY OF PAIN – SlideServe. https://www.slideserve.com/barthp/physiology-of-pain-powerpoint-ppt-presentation


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