Understanding Pain: Why Do You Suffer Pain?
We all suffer pain. We all do different things to cause pain. We all feel pain slightly differently. Why does pain persist in some of us, but not in others? Why is your pain so difficult to explain to others?
Maybe it’s because we have difficulty understanding the who, what, where, when and how of pain. Pain – a simple word – a pandora’s box of thinking! The following article should help you understand pain and pain management.
Types of Pain
Nerve pain (neuropathic pain) is pain caused by damage or disease that affects your nervous system. Nerve pain can occur due to direct injury to the nerve (e.g. diabetic peripheral neuropathy, cut nerve, post-stroke). Alternatively, it can be affected by a virus (e.g. shingles).
Nociceptive pain seems a little easier to explain. It occurs when you knowingly damage something, e.g. a muscle tear or a broken bone. The nerve endings in the damaged tissue detect a problem and initiate pain signals that are transferred through your peripheral nerves to the brain via the spinal cord. Your brain interprets the signals as pain.
Nociceptive Pain Types
Just to complicate things a little more, there are two types of nociceptive pain: somatic pain and radicular pain.
Somatic pain is pain caused by the injured structures, e.g., muscles and joints, sending pain signals to your spinal cord and brain.
The more pinched a nerve becomes, the more likely you are to experience radiculopathy. Symptoms can include muscle weakness, numbness, pins and needles or loss of reflexes in the distribution of the pinched nerve.
Acute Pain vs Chronic Pain
Acute pain is associated with a new onset. It is generally associated with an injury.
Chronic pain is persisting pain that has lasted over three months. Interestingly, chronic pain is not usually related to damaged tissue. Chronic pain is different from acute pain. Another term for chronic pain could be “brain pain”.