What are the different types of pain?

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Pain comes in many forms and can have various origins. Some of the terminology in this article may be a bit medical, so if you want me to explain how this particular type of pain might be affecting you, feel free to book a free 15-minute introduction chat.

Now, let’s explore some of these types of pain together:

  • Acute Pain: This kind of pain often surprises us with its sudden onset and sharp intensity. It’s like a signal from our body warning us of injury or illness. Luckily, it usually fades away once we address the underlying issue.
  • Chronic Pain: Unlike acute pain, chronic pain sticks around for the long haul, extending far beyond the typical healing period. It’s often linked to conditions like arthritis or neuropathy and can take a toll on both our physical and emotional well-being.
  • Nociceptive Pain: This type of pain stems from tissue damage or inflammation, triggering our pain receptors to send signals to the brain. It’s commonly associated with injuries, burns, or surgeries and is often described as an achy or throbbing sensation.
  • Neuropathic Pain: When our nervous system malfunctions or sustains damage, we may experience neuropathic pain. It can feel like shooting, burning, or stabbing sensations and is often seen in conditions like diabetes or multiple sclerosis.
  • Nociplastic and Neuroplastic Pain: Pain that arises from altered nociception despite no clear evidence of actual or threatened tissue damage that causes peripheral nociceptor activation or evidence of disease or lesion of the somatosensory system causing the pain. This all sounds a little sciencey, so some examples can include headaches, fibromyalgia, non-specific low back pain and many other conditions where structural issues are not identified.
  • Visceral Pain: Originating from our internal organs, visceral pain presents as a deep, dull ache. It can be tricky to pinpoint precisely but is commonly felt in areas like the intestines or bladder.
  • Psychogenic Pain: Sometimes, pain doesn’t have a clear physical cause and is thought to be influenced by psychological factors like stress or anxiety. Despite the absence of apparent tissue damage, it can be very real and debilitating. We can work with you to find strategies to improve your life through pain management and identifying what is important to you.
  • Referred Pain: This type of pain is felt in a different location than where it originates. For instance, during a heart attack, pain may be felt in the left arm or jaw instead of the chest.
  • Phantom Pain: Even after losing sensation in a body part, the brain may still perceive pain originating from that missing limb or appendage.

Understanding the type of pain you’re feeling is important, so we can determine the best ways to work together to help you feel confident and capable and look forward to a fulfilling future.

References

Bułdyś K, Górnicki T, Kałka D, Szuster E, Biernikiewicz M, Markuszewski L, Sobieszczańska M. (2023). What Do We Know about Nociplastic Pain? Healthcare (Basel). 11(12):1794. https://doi.org/10.3390/healthcare11121794

Hiraga, Si., Itokazu, T., Nishibe, M. et al. (2022). Neuroplasticity related to chronic pain and its modulation by microglia. Inflammatory Regeneration 42(15). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41232-022-00199-6