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by James Thomas, Saturday, 07 April 2018 | Categories: General Health

Pain, like many other human experiences, is largely subjective. Depending upon a certain person’s medical history and life story, they may experience a painful incident, such as stubbing their toe or having a migraine, in an entirely different manner to a friend or family member. Because of this, pain can often be difficult to treat.

The good news is that our understanding of how pain works is improving every day. In the past few years, more attention has been drawn to painful conditions that specifically affect women, such as endometriosis; in this article from The New Republic, the writer argues that "Too often, a woman’s pain is not merely met with doubt, but suspicion", and explains the various ways in which women are now fighting back against this prejudice.

In addition to shifts in how we think about pain, we’re also seeing improvements in the field of pain management. Just recently, researchers designed a new compound which successfully treated neuropathic pain in animals.

For pain sufferers, in other words, things look set to improve over the next few years. In the meantime, one of the best ways to stay on top of pain symptoms is to be well informed. If you’d like to know more about pain management, read on for a guide to the various types of pain, and how they can be treated.

Acute Pain vs Chronic Pain 

The most common pain categories are acute and chronic. Acute pain is pain that comes on suddenly and is limited in its duration; chronic pain, by contrast, is more permanent in nature. Acute pain is more likely to be caused by damage to the body, while chronic pain is more likely to be caused by a long-term condition – although it can also arise as a result of injury.

Chronic pain can be resistant to medical treatment, and pain medication is not always sufficient. It’s believed that episodes of "breakthrough pain" are experienced by 70% of people who suffer from chronic pain (1). This is where the sufferer has a flare-up of pain, despite being on regular medication. Because chronic pain can be resistant to medical treatment in this way, it can lead to depression and anxiety, which can in turn worsen the symptoms.

Nociceptive Pain vs Neuropathic Pain

After the categories of acute and chronic, pain is most often categorised by whether it is nociceptive, relating to tissue damage, or neuropathic, relating to nerve damage (2).

Pain from tissue damage is more common than pain from nerve damage. You may experience nociceptive pain from injury to your bones, soft tissue or organs, or as a result of a disease. Pain from tissue damage can be acute or chronic, and is often sharp, throbbing or dull.

Neuropathic pain occurs when the nerves are damaged. People who suffer from neuropathic pain often experience a burning sensation and sensitivity in the affected areas. Other symptoms include pins and needles, difficulty sensing different temperatures, and numbness (3).

With both nociceptive and neuropathic pain, mental and emotional problems such as depression can worsen the pain symptoms. This is sometimes referred to as psychogenic pain.

Conditions that Cause Pain

There are a variety of conditions that can cause chronic pain or repeating episodes of acute pain. These include:

  • Cluster headaches, sudden attacks of pain on one side of the head (usually around the eye)
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which is usually triggered by an injury and causes severe, ongoing pain in the affected area
  • Slipped disc, where the tissue between two vertebrae pushes out and causes back pain
  • Arthritis, where the joints become inflamed and painful
  • Sickle cell disease, which can cause a sudden episode of pain known as a "pain crisis"
  • Endometriosis, a condition that affects women and causes chronic pain which is particularly acute when menstruating

These are just a few of the conditions that can cause ongoing pain symptoms. If you are suffering from pain and you aren’t sure of the cause, you should make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

Treating Pain

As we’ve discussed, pain isn’t always easy to treat. However, there are a huge number of different options available to try. To receive a free online assessment regarding your pain, visit our Pain Management Clinic. We can give advice on treatment options and prescribe a range of safe painkillers.

Sources:

(1) https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/pain-types-and-classifications#1-2

(2) https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/pain-types-and-classifications#2-3

(3) https://www.brainandspine.org.uk/neuropathic-pain





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