All about Pain

The Types of Pain

Pain has many faces. It can be pulsing, aching, sharp, dull or even drilling. The differentiation of these different forms of manifestation is crucial for the treatment, since it provides clues about the cause of the pain and the place where it originates from. Which is why pains are subdivided once again into types of pain. They can be classified as nociceptive, neuropathic and psychogenic pains based on their cause and location of appearance.

Nociceptive Pains

Pains which are triggered by an injury or tissue damage are referred to as nociceptive pains. Receptors known as nociceptors are activated in the process. Nociceptors are “pain feelers” of sorts which detect pain stimuli and transmit them to the central nervous system.

Feelings of pain which emanate from the skin, muscles, joints, bones or connective tissue are referred to as somatic pains. They are sharp in nature and are usually easy to locate. If the pain is triggered by the inner organs, such as in the case of a bilious attack or appendicitis, it is known as a visceral pain. Visceral pains are often dull, aching and rather difficult to locate.

Neuropathic Pains

In contrast to nociceptive pain, the pain is not triggered by tissue damage, but damage or a functional disorder in the nerve itself. The pains are described as burning, sharp and flashing. Triggers for neuropathic pains include metabolic disorders like diabetes or infectious diseases such as shingles.

Psychogenic Pain

This form of pain is not based on any organic causes. Psychogenic pain is triggered by psychological problems. But this can be difficult to detect.

Before a diagnosis can be made, all organic causes (i.e. all physically detectable causes) must first be ruled out. For the patient, this often means a long and also frustrating route to the correct diagnosis and thus a long route to treating the pain.

last update:  02 Nov 2010