Types of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain affects millions of people and contributes to disability and poor quality of life. Pain is any unpleasant sensation that occurs due to a stimulus, such as an illness, disease, tumor, or injury. Acute pain only last a short while, whereas chronic pain lasts for longer than six months. There is no test to measure pain. Rather, it is a subjective experience unique to the individual. Because people are different, pain varies from person to person.
Around 10% of the U.S. population suffers from some form of chronic pain. The extent and severity of chronic pain is often out of proportion to the original injury or underlying condition. The goals of chronic pain treatment are to treat the underlying condition, to relieve associated symptoms, and to maximize a person’s functioning.
Nociceptive pain occurs with stimulation of pain receptors. With this type of pain, receptors sense chemicals released form damaged cells and in response to vibration, stretching, and temperature. The two types of nociceptive pain are:
- Somatic pain – This is felt on the skin, muscles, joints, and bones. Somatic pain allows the body to feel inflammation, such as what occurs from a cut or injury. Somatic pain sometimes is perceived as a sharp sensation localized to the injured body region. With lack of oxygen to a body region, as with muscle fatigue or ischemia, somatic pain occurs. Examples of chronic somatic pain include back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, tension headaches, and pelvic pain.
- Visceral pain – This type of pain is perceived in the body’s organs. Pain receptors in major body cavities sense ischemia, inflammation, and stretching within organs. Visceral pain is more difficult to describe and identify because it is an aching, deep pain. Examples of chronic visceral pain include irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, bladder pain (cystitis), and prostate pain (benign prostatic hyperplasia).
Non-nociceptive pain is not caused by pain receptors. Rather, it is the result of the nerves themselves. With non-nociceptive pain, no pain receptors are stimulated. The two types of non-nociceptive pain are:
- Neuropathic pain – Caused directly by the nerves, neuropathic pain results in burning, tingling, aching, numbness, and/or electric-shock sensations. This pain comes from the central nervous system, which consists of the nerves between the spinal cord and brain, as well as the peripheral nervous system, which involves the nerves between the body’s tissues and the spinal cord. Examples of neuropathic pain are shingles, sciatica, impinged nerve, peripheral neuropathy, and neuroma.
- Sympathetic pain – The cause of sympathetic pain is the sympathetic nervous system, which controls how the peripheral nervous system works with sweating, blood flow, and heart rate. This pain usually occurs following an injury to an extremities. Since this pain is non-nociceptive, there are no specific pain receptors involved. An example of sympathetic pain of chronic nature is complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
Psychogenic pain is associated to emotional stress and mental health problems. There is no physical cause of psychogenic pain, but it is a real type of pain. Often difficult to treat, addressing the underlying mental problem most often works for providing pain relief. Examples of psychogenic pain include somatoform disorders, depression, and anxiety.
Idiopathic pain dis not traceable to any known cause. This pain often occurs with another pain condition, and is not well understood. When pain occurs and no identifiable cause is found, it is called chronic idiopathic pain syndrome.
Colorado Clinic offers top pain management at several locations in Northern Colorado with Board Certified providers. Most insurance is accepted, call the closest location today!