If you spend enough time researching chronic pain, you’ll find out quickly that there is a lot more variety in the way that people experience chronic pain than you may have thought. But if you look through enough chronic pain examples, you’ll quickly realize that there are a few general patterns.
You see, chronic pain conditions are a huge problem around the world. In America, for instance, 1 in every 10 people suffers from some kind of chronic pain. But the term “chronic pain” captures a huge number of different conditions and diseases that all cause chronic pain in a different way. But generally speaking, you can put chronic pain into a few categories: Nociceptive, neuropathic, somatic, visceral, idiopathic, and psychogenic.
Of course, that probably just sounds like some dense medical jargon. But really, it’s not that complicated. So let’s look at some chronic pain examples that will help us understand the difference between these types of chronic pain.
Chronic Pain Examples
Chronic Pain Examples #1: Fibromyalgia
Let’s start with one that you are probably familiar with if you’re a regular reader of this site: fibromyalgia. And if you haven’t heard of fibromyalgia, basically it’s a condition that causes chronic pain throughout the muscle tissues. So this chronic pain example involves pain that is located in the muscle tissue. Normally, this kind of pain would be categorized as nociceptive, which means the pain comes from soft tissue.
But fibromyalgia, as always, defies easy answers. Because the pain of fibromyalgia doesn’t actually stem from the muscles, it doesn’t fall into the nociceptive category. We don’t know why people with fibromyalgia experience chronic pain since there is no actual damage to the soft tissue. And that makes fibromyalgia pain idiopathic, which means that it is a pain with no obvious source.
Chronic Pain Examples #2: Diabetic Neuropathy
In this entry into our list of chronic pain examples, the nerve damage from a case of diabetes causes pain that travels around the body. This pain feels like radiating waves of burning, tingling, or a “pins and needles” sensation. This type of pain is extremely difficult to treat and can be maddening to live with. And it’s quite common among people with diabetes or any condition that leads to nerve damage.
Of course, as you might have guessed, this pain is categorized as neuropathic pain.
Chronic Pain Examples #3: Endometriosis
In this example, there is a woman who is affected by endometriosis, which is a condition where the tissue in the uterus expands to grow outside of the uterus. No one knows for sure what causes it, but it is often extremely painful.
And because this type of pain stems from the actual organs in the body, it is classified as visceral pain, or a pain that is caused by a problem with internal organs.
Chronic Pain Examples #4: Depression
In this instance of our chronic pain examples, imagine there is someone who is deeply depressed. You are probably familiar with the symptoms of depression: loss of appetite or motivation, feelings of sadness or worthlessness. But while our patient in this scenario has all of these symptoms, they also have one more.
Our patient suffers from severe and persistent headaches. After a doctor examines them, they find no obvious physical cause. This, of course, doesn’t make their pain any less real, but it does speak to the fact that it stems from the mind rather than a physical source. So the patient’s chronic pain is actually psychogenic pain (pain that stems from psychological disorders).
Chronic Pain Examples #5: Arthritis
In this example, we are looking at a person who suffers from severe arthritis. A build up of fluid in their joints causes them to swell, which makes moving and performing basic tasks very painful. This pain continues for a few months, which makes it difficult to live a normal life.
But most important for us to know is that this type of pain the patient is experiencing is somatic, which is pain that’s picked up through sensory nerves in the joints or skin.
Chronic Pain Examples #6: Plantar Fasciitis
In this example, we’re looking at someone with plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a type of chronic pain caused by inflammation of the tendons in the foot. And though there are ways to manage it, it can often become a chronic condition.
But again, the important thing to know is that their pain is nociceptive pain because it originates in the soft tissues of the foot.
So with that run through all our chronic pain examples, you should have a better understanding of what chronic pain is, how it is classified, and how your chronic pain fits into the larger scheme of medical classification.
But let us know, have you experienced any of these types of chronic pain? More than one? Tell us in the comments.