An Overview of the Different Types of Chronic Pain

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Different Types of Chronic Pain

An overview of pain as described by Researchers

It is important to know that pain is such a complex subjective phenomenon and this makes it quite difficult to just describe in a few words.

It is for this reason that it has been put into different categories, which differ in cause, effect, and treatment processes.

In the medical field, pain is more often described as a symptom of underlying issues both physical and psychological.

Basically, the two main categories of pain are acute pain and chronic pain. Take note that while acute pain is one that lasts for up to 3 months; chronic pain tends to go well beyond 6 months and is persistent in all cases.

There is a significant difference in the different school of thought and research institutions as to how pain should be classified.

On one hand, there are researchers who believe that pain should be classified based on; the part of the body affected, organs causing the pain, pattern of the pain, as well as the intensity.

On the other hand, some researchers hold it that pain should only be classified as inflammatory pain, nociceptive pain, and pathological.

All in all, the classification by the two groups is more or less based on the fact that the two look into, cause, effect, and treatment, irrespective of whether it is chronic pain or acute pain, a patient suffers.

The different types of chronic pain

Phantom Pain

This type of pain is mostly experienced by persons whose limbs have been amputated. Basically, the patient’s brain is unable to receive any pain signals.

In most cases, the upper limb amputees tend to experience more pain compared to those whose lower limb has been amputated.

It is usually shooting, stabbing, or burning. The areas around the part that has been amputated becomes very sensitive and so any slight touch, the patient will experience pain, and the same is experienced while urinating or defecating.

This is usually treated by the use of anesthesia which helps relieve pain in the affected areas for a long period of time; it can be several weeks or even months.

Visceral Pain

This is a type of pain that is detected by sensory nerves and sent to a patient’s brain for interpretation. There are times this chronic pain feels quite dull, and this makes it quite difficult to pinpoint the affected area of the body.

In fact, it can be felt far away from the affected areas, making diagnosis such a complex process. It is mostly experienced by persons who suffer bladder and prostate problems, not to mention problems that tend to affect the bowel.

Psychogenic Pain

The psychogenic pain is also known as somatoform pain and in some circles it is popularly called psychalgia.

This pain comes about because of prolonged mental issues as well as behavioral and emotional factors.

Take note that this can be stomach pain, back pain, and even headache, which a good number of patients tend to suffer. It is characterized by depression, hysteria, anxiety, and also neurotic triad.

Incident and breakthrough pain

Incident pain is a type of chronic pain that arises due to a patient’s activity and this could be stretching of wound while walking, joints of arthritis patients when they rub, or just anything that is similar  to these situations.

On the other hand, breakthrough pain is more of transitory acute pain that comes suddenly and is quite hard to deal with even with an experienced pain management team.

It is the kind of pain that cancer patients experience before and after treatment. However, the use of opioids such as fentanyl has been of great help in regard to trying to control the extent of pain and is quite reliable.

Neuropathic pain

This one of the different types of chronic pain, is known to be caused by disturbed nerves, and this is known to be sharp and shooting, transmitted through the spinal cord to the human brain. It might be caused by nerve irritation, neuroma formation, or by damage of nerves in the body.

A good example of this type of pain is sciatica, and the others that fall in this range includes but not limited to; post-mastectonomy pain, and phantom limb pain.

Idiopathic pain

This pain is mostly experienced by persons who suffer from disorders such as fibromyalgia and TMJ. The pain cannot be traced back to any physical or psychological cause, and this makes it quite difficult to treat.

In fact, it cannot be detected by almost all of the medical tools and equipment available in highly reputed hospitals. Nevertheless, it remains real and those who experience it tend to suffer a great deal.

Nociceptive pain

This is one of the most common type of chronic pain that is experienced by many patients. In most cases, it is detected in soft tissues including skin and body muscles.

The best examples of this type of pain are; headaches, fibromyalgia, and arthritis. In fact, the pelvic pain that arises because of nerve damage is another good example of this pain.

It is paramount for you to note that this pain might either be visceral or somatic in nature based on the variable factors.

How Pain is experienced

It is of utmost importance to know that pain is not experienced in one way only.  As such, research shows that pain can be experienced in a number of dimensions.

This means that pain can be experienced in affective motivational dimension, sensory-discriminative, or cognitive evaluation. The entire 3 dimensions differ in one way or another and not all can affect specific situations.

In regard to acute pain, there is always a balance between the three dimensions. For this reason, medical practitioners are able to evaluate the pain and offer relevant and reliable solutions to pain patients.

However, in any type of chronic pain the balance is always interrupted, making it quite difficult to deal with some pain situations.

It is based on these dimensions that medical experts will evaluate a patient before offering any help, of course after tests have been done and report was issued.