Understanding the Different Types of Chronic Pain

Whether you’re running a marathon, moving a heavy couch, or just working around the house, you’re eventually going to experience pain by pulling a muscle, straining a tendon, or suffering some other form of injury. 

Those kinds of injuries also become common forms of chronic pain, and affected 20.4% of United States adults (7.4% of them with bad enough pain to make regular work and home activities difficult) in 2019 alone. Chronic pain can come from a wide variety of causes, and treating them will require some understanding of the underlying condition. 

If you live in the Hagerstown, Maryland, area and you’re having problems with chronic pain, Dr. Christopher Clark and Premier Spine and Sports Medicine are here to help. We specialize in a compassionate and collaborative approach to rehabilitation, regenerative medicine, and many other methods of easing chronic pain to help you find relief.

Let’s look at how chronic pain works, what can cause it, and the types of pain you may encounter.

Understanding chronic pain

When you get injured, or experience sudden pain for other reasons, that’s referred to as acute pain. It’s basically the initial response to stubbing your toe or scraping your knee. You feel it immediately, and the pain fades quickly. 

A moderate or severe injury can certainly cause you to feel pain for longer periods of time (up to six months), but overall, once it’s gone, you don’t generally experience it again. 

However, if you feel the same pain for extended periods of time (generally over three months), that pain becomes chronic. And managing it will mean examining what may be causing your pain to persist.

Types of chronic pain

Most types of pain can become chronic over time, especially if it’s connected to a condition that hasn’t been treated, or has persistent pain as a symptom. Any of these types of pain can become chronic:

Nociceptive pain

Your nociceptors are pain sensors located in numerous areas of your body, including your skin and internal organs. When you feel pain from tissue injury or inflammation, it’s because these sensors send electrical impulses to your brain. This is the most common type of pain, and also includes headaches, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.

Somatic pain

This actually refers to a specific type of nociceptive pain which is detected by sensory nerves in muscle, skin, and soft tissue. This type of pain is more focused on muscles, joints, connective tissue, and bones, which means most injuries from physical activity or overexertion will fall under somatic pain.

Visceral pain

This is another type of nociceptive pain, but its focus is on your body’s internal organs. Since these nerves are not as widespread as the somatic or other nociceptive areas, visceral pain can be harder to localize. 

This means your pain may be felt in the tissue surrounding the actual area affected. Bladder pain, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and endometriosis are types of visceral pain.

Neuropathic pain

This stabbing, shooting, or burning pain is caused by nerve disturbances and spontaneous pain signals sent to your spinal cord and brain through your nerves. Types of nerve damage or nerve irritation include diabetic neuropathy and sciatica.

Psychogenic pain

This is pain caused by psychological disorders, like depression or anxiety. Psychogenic pain can cause fatigue, muscle aches and pains, and can be more difficult to treat than the other types of pain.

Idiopathic pain

This is the term used for pain that has no discernible cause, and can be found in people with pre-existing pain disorders like fibromyalgia and temporomandibular jaw (TMJ) disorders.

Whatever the cause of your chronic pain, we have many treatment options to help you feel better and experience less chronic episodes. So, if you’re ready to be freed from the chronic pain you’re enduring, contact Dr. Clark and Premiere Spine and Sports Medicine today by calling our office or booking an appointment online.

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