Are there different types of chronic pain? It’s a question you might be asking if you’ve been living with chronic pain for a while. Or if you have a loved one who is suffering from it. If that’s the case, then you know how much of a difference being knowledgeable about the subject can make in terms of getting the best care.
And we all know that chronic pain is one of the worst possible conditions to try to cope with, which is at least partially because so little is understood about its mechanisms and causes. So when it comes to chronic pain, a little knowledge can go a long way. So let’s talk about what chronic pain is, and what some of the different types of chronic pain are.
What Is Chronic Pain
Everyone experiences pain from time to time. And most people will have to endure a painful medical condition at some point in their lives. But chronic pain is different in one important way. Where normal pain tends to come and go depending on the condition, chronic pain lasts for a long time. That can be months to years, but the medical criterion for diagnosing chronic pain is that it lasts at least three to six months.
That means that chronic pain conditions are usually related to something fairly serious, like a physical injury or a major disease like cancer. And chronic pain actually affects a lot more people than you might think. In fact, around the world, as many as 1.5 billion people may suffer from chronic pain.
That’s a huge number, especially when you consider the added economic cost from the lost productivity of those people. So it’s easy to see that pain is a serious, serious problem. And it’s one that’s made all the more serious by the fact that there are so many different types of chronic pain.
What Are The Different Types Of Chronic Pain
There are actually several different types of chronic pain, based on the fact that pain can be very different depending on the condition and the person suffering from it.
First, you have neuropathic pain, which is pain that comes from the brain or nervous system instead of from a physical place in the body. This can often be some of the worst pain because pain actually originates in the nerves. See, while slamming your hand in a car door is painful and might break the bones, the pain itself in that situation comes from the brain. The pain signals travel along the nerves, which creates the actual sensation that you are feeling.
But sometimes the nerve cells that control this pain start sending that pain signal without any obvious cause. This is what happens in conditions like phantom limb pain, where the body processes the pain signals without an obvious physical source. Often these conditions are difficult to treat as well since no one really knows how they work.
Secondly, there is somatic pain which actually originates in the soft tissue. This sort of pain is stuff like chronic headaches where the constriction of blood vessels create pain or arthritis where swelling joints are to blame. This pain can be intense and is usually treated with either NSAIDs or opioid pain relievers.
Then there is visceral pain, which is similar to somatic pain. The big difference is that visceral pain occurs in the soft tissue of the internal organs, or viscera. This pain tends to originate from things like renal failure or liver disease and can be some of the most painful there is.
Next is idiopathic pain, which describes the pain that comes from a source that doctors can’t identify. This is what a disease like fibromyalgia is classified as. The pain from fibromyalgia doesn’t seem to come from any obvious source and doesn’t fit under any of the other categories of pain. That makes fibromyalgia pain unique in a lot of ways, and there aren’t many conditions that fall into the idiopathic category.
Obviously, the type of pain that you experience depends on the condition. But the amount of pain can vary widely from individual to individual. So there’s no particular type of pain that “worse” than the others. And all chronic pain is something no one should have to live with. But you tell us, do you live with chronic pain?Which of the different types of chronic pain is it? What do you do to manage it every day? Let us know in the comments below.