Chronic pain is usually defined as a type of pain that lasts for more than three to six months. It is more common than people think. Millions of people are affected every single year by chronic pain in various areas of their bodies: their joints, their heads, their backs, and so on.
Furthermore, not many people out there know that chronic pain can take a lot of shapes and that these can be both extremely diverse and very similar at the same time, which can make their diagnosis quite difficult.
What are some the types of chronic pain out there, and what are their particularities?
First of all, you should know that chronic pain can be of two types: nociceptive and neuropathic. The nociceptive chronic pain is caused by the so-called nociceptors (nerves that are usually in charge with the way your brain perceives various sensations, including pain). On the other hand, neuropathic chronic pain is usually caused by a malfunction of the nervous system. In their own turn, nociceptive chronic pain syndromes can be superficial, deep somatic and visceral, while the neuropathic ones can be peripheral or central.
Although studies have been made, there hasn’t been found a clear answer as to what is it exactly that causes Fibromyalgia. For this precise reason, it is not very clear whether this syndrome is nociceptive or neuropathic, since there are multiple theories on its causes.
The most widely accepted theory is that this syndrome is caused by an imbalance of the chemicals in the human brain which in its turn causes it to perceive pain in a dysfunctional way.
Still, what causes these imbalances remains a mystery to patients and doctors alike. There is a very high chance that it can be related to physical or emotional stress, as well as to injuries that may have been suffered by the patient (in which case Fibromyalgia falls into the category of the neuropathic chronic pains).
2- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is very, very similar to Fibromyalgia and their symptoms are so much alike that they are sometimes mistaken for each other. Bad sleeping patterns, muscles pain and pain in the joints and a general state of fatigue are among the symptoms in syndromes.
On the other hand though, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients also show enlarged lymph nodes and sometimes they extremities can actually become swollen (as opposed to Fibromyalgia, where there is only the feeling that they are swollen).
This is probably one of the most common types of pain out there, especially in the case of the older people. Arthritis can be of two kinds: osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. In the case of the first, the cartilages in the joints are slowly deteriorated, while in the case of the second, the lining of the joints is first inflamed and then it is destroyed.
Typical symptoms of this medical condition include pain, stiffness, warmth and redness in the area of the joints. Arthritis is also mistaken with Fibromyalgia sometimes, mainly because both of them show pain in the joints as a symptom. However, a thorough analysis made by a doctor should quite easily distinguish between these two chronic pain-related medical conditions.
4- Polymyaglia Rheumatica
This is a type of Arthritis that can cause muscle pain in two or more areas of the body at the same time. Some of the symptoms encountered in patients suffering from this particular medical condition include pain in the shoulders, neck, upper arms, thighs and buttocks, as well as stiffness, limited range of motions, fatigue, loss of appetite, depression, weight loss and even fever. Usually, it does not occur in patients that are older than 50 years old and sometimes it is also mistaken with Fibromyalgia because their symptoms are highly similar.
5- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
This particular medical condition is considered to be among the most painful long-term syndromes and it can be of two types. Type 1 Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is usually caused by some sort of illness or injury that has not affected directly the nervous system. Type 1 Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is caused by injuries that have directly affected the nerves.
Typical symptoms of this medical conditions include a very high level of pain (which is, most of the times, continuous), swelling in certain affected areas, sensitivity to extreme temperatures, changes in the temperature of the skin (as well as in its color and texture), atrophy of the muscles and stiffness in the joints.
6- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
This medical condition’s causes are not exactly known. All that is known is the fact that its symptoms are caused by an abnormality in the movements of the intestines. Some factors may worsen the condition and among these foods such as dairy products, soda, certain fruits and vegetables and coffee play an important part.
Furthermore, stress is another important factor in the way the Irritable Bowel Syndrome can develop, and so are hormones (especially for women around their menstruation). Typical symptoms if this disease include diarrhea, urination problems, severe stomach aches, fatigue, anxiety, sleeping issues, bloating, pain in the back area, headaches and a general unpleasant taste in the mouth. IBS is sometimes mistaken with Fibromyalgia, both because the occurrence of them together is very high and because some of their symptoms overlap.
As you can see, there is a wide range of medical conditions primarily characterized by chronic pain. The fact that most of their symptoms are common to each other makes it difficult for specialists to diagnose a patient. Therefore, if you show these symptoms, check out with your doctor as soon as possible, since he/she will able to investigate and to eventually diagnose you correctly (and thus, prescribe you the adequate treatment).