Types of Pain

In order to understand different pain types, we need first to answer a simple question: What is Pain?

If we look for Pain’s definition we will find it associated with “a disgusting emotional, physical or sensory experience”, which every living being with a central nervous system can experiment.
So our central nervous system ‘alert’ us that something in our body is not well, and that is the function of Pain.

Pain Classifications

Let’s see the most common types of pain, and how they can affect our body and emotions.

Common Pain or Acute Pain

This is the most common case of Pain. It appears from an event or particular cause which is, most of the times, quickly discovered. This Pain does not last long. At most, it is considered to be an acute pain if it has a duration of maximum 2 or 3 weeks, depending on the cause of it.

We can ‘stop’ common pain with medicine, gels, pills, tablets or derivatives. As the pain is punctual, we try to stop feeling this with rapid action methods as the mentioned before.
Sometimes, an acute pain can turn into a chronic pain. These methods aren’t recommended if the pain is recurrent. If we have a recurring pain we must visit our doctor so we can get a treatment of specific meds to confront this pain.

Recurring Pain or Chronic Pain

This is a type of pain which is very important to pay much attention to it. This is different from Acute pain because this type of pain last for a long period of time, and may change completely your lifestyle. A chronic pain lasts for a long time or periods of time. In some cases, it can last weeks, months or even years.

This needs a treatment and periodical revision by a certified specialist, depending on the area of the body that suffer this pain and others variables.

Chronic Pain can be caused by an injury or an infection you had in the past, like for example sprains or bone breaks caused by an event, such as an accident or sports injury.
In other occasions, it appears from an ongoing illness or sufferings as low back pain, arthritis, or other kinds of pain than elderly people often suffer.

Chronic pain isn’t always curable, but there are many types of treatment to help people not to suffer that much, as the listed below:

  • Analgesics and other painkiller medications.
  • Electric stimulation.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Relaxation therapy/meditation.
  • Surgery.

In some cases, emotions and psychological disorders can worsen certain types of chronic pain. There are also treatments to prevent these cases and prevent the state of pain from worsening due to psychological causes of pain.

One of the psychological disorders that most affects chronic pain is depression.

Neuropathic Pain or Neurological Pain

This pain appears when nerve tissue suffers damage, for example, due to conditions such as diabetes or other types of diseases.

Depending on the cause, this damage can affect our central nervous system, our brain, and spinal cord, or peripheric nerves.

A typical pain from the peripheric nerves is that one which is called ‘Pain for ghost member’. This is caused due to an amputation, either surgical or accidental since the person experiences a sensation of “pain and tingling” in an amputated limb, and whose peripheral nerves were damaged.

The neurological pain that causes some injury that affects the central nervous system may be due to diseases such as multiple sclerosis, strokes or cerebral infarcts.

Psychological Pain or Psychogenic Pain

This type of pain is caused by psychological disorders are usually pains that do not match or correspond in physical form to the symptoms presented by the patient, or that there is no physical cause for the pain, but that it is produced due to a psychological picture of the patient.

Some of the most common types of Psychogenic Pain are:

  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Stomach pain

Also, the opposite may occur, that is, the pain appears because of a psychological disorder, such as depression, stress, anxiety, etc.

As we have seen, there are several types of pain and there are many causes that can produce them. This is why it’s important to take into account what may be the causes that produce our pain in order to find a way to prevent them or to consult a doctor to take appropriate treatment.

Types of pain Depending on the intensity

Depending on the intensity of the pain we can suffer, it can be classified into 3 levels: mild, moderate or severe.

Mild pain is that kind of pain that does not make it very difficult in the person’s daily life and that it can be easily controlled with some prescribed medication.

It is a type of pain that we can even “get used to”.

Sometimes, we may not even perceive it, by engaging in activities of our day to day, or by focusing our attention on something determined which can distract us and to stop thinking about it.

Although this can be dangerous, even more so when dealing with a recurrent or chronic pain since it is a sign that there is a problem with our psychobiological system, we may not pay due attention and this pain evolves to a suffering or even greater problem.

A pain that appears on a scale as moderate, can be translated into a pain that has some intensity that can make it difficult and bring problems with the daily life of the person who suffers it.

While this does not mean that it can greatly limit the routine of people, if it can cause some problems and great discomfort, especially in some activities.

This type of pain is usually solved with specific medication prescribed by a medical professional. It should also be consulted to follow an adequate treatment that allows an improvement, or even studies of possible problems that we may have so that this does not result in a major illness.

When we suffer from a pain that we place as intense or severe, we are talking about a pain that is highly present in our daily life, even in activities that practically do not require movements or efforts, so it is a pain that can seriously affect our lives, even in activities such as rest.

This should be carried out through appropriate treatment by a professional doctor, in order to have a strict regimen of medication and intensive care if necessary, since it is possible that the prescription medication temporarily incapacitates the patient to realize certain chores and he/she must be treated and supported by relatives or professionals in the field.

Unclassified pain types

There are some pains of certain diseases or disorders that are not classified.

This is because they are still being studied, since their causes and how they behave in certain individuals have not been completely determined, either because they are very rare diseases or even because they only occur under certain contexts.

This is the case of some diseases such as fibromyalgia, a very painful disease that presents chronic muscle pain, which still has an almost unknown origin. It is not clear at all how this condition is generated and even today there are many doubts and controversies about how to take adequate treatment.

We can also mention the case of the disorder called “Pain by phantom limb”. This disorder is psychological although it presents a real pain sensation due to the lack of a member in the biological system.

It happens in people who have lost some limb such as an arm or a leg, even an organ at times, for example, due to accidents and it is very common on retired military, which still presents pain or sensation of the amputated limb.
There are some methods that are being studied to investigate how this disorder behaves and the appropriate treatments to be able to solve it. One of the most effective methods for this case is called “Therapy of the mirror box”.

It is very difficult to classify in general a pain or a condition since not all people are affected in the same way by the same cause.

The way in which affects the same condition in different individuals, both biological and mental, is often very different from each other, and also depends on many factors, such as routine, the environment with which the person relates daily, the culture, even economic factors or the choices and experiences that have happened in people’s life.

If you need to see further information about pain, check out this great video that brings further light into pain management and types of pain: