As we all know that there are different types of chronic pain, it can vary depending upon the conditions and the persons suffering from it. Before learning about types of chronic pain, firstly we should know what is chronic pain, its symptoms, etc.
What Is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is commonly used to describe the pain that lasts more than 3 to 6 months, or beyond the time in which tissue heals. Additionally, chronic pain has real effects on your day-to-day lifestyle and on your mental health.
Everyone experiences different types of pain from time to time. And most of the people will have to go through a painful medical condition at some point in their lives. But chronic pain syndrome is somewhat different from other paints. Whereas normal pain tends to come and go depending on the person’s condition, chronic pain usually lasts for a long time. This means that chronic pain syndrome conditions are generally fairly serious than other pain, like a physical injury or a major disease like cancer.
Chronic pain can occur in many forms, but this pain is often categorized into 2 major categories of its own such as:
- Chronic pain with identifiable symptoms: It can occur as a result of an injury. Various structural spine conditions such as degenerative disc disease, and spondylolisthesis, can cause ongoing pain until they are properly treated. These conditions arise due to a diagnosable anatomical problem. If the pain caused by these conditions has not recovered even after a few weeks or months of nonsurgical treatments, then spine surgery may often be considered as a treatment alternative. In real life, this type of chronic pain syndrome might be conceived as a long term acute pain although the term chronic pain is used.
- Chronic pain with no identifiable symptoms: When the pain remains even after the tissue has healed and there is no clear idea behind that pain, then that pain is often known as “chronic benign pain”.
Symptoms Of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain ranges from mild to severe. It can increase day after day or sometimes may come and go. It usually varies from person to person. The various symptoms of chronic pain are as follows:
- Difficulty in sleeping.
- Mood swings.
- Feeling tired.
- Inadequate energy.
- Not feeling hungry.
- Trembling pain.
What Causes Chronic Pain?
Some of the most common causes of chronic pain are as follows:
- Back problems.
- Migraines or other headaches.
- Damage to the nerve.
- Muscle pain throughout the bodies commonly called Fibromyalgia.
The feeling of pain generally comes from the nervous system generating a series of messages. When you hurt yourself, the injury turns on pain sensors of the injured area. They send electrical signals, which travels from nerve to nerve until these signals reach your brain. After that, your brain processes the signal and sends out the message that you hurt. Generally, the signal stops when the pain is resolved like your body repairs the wound of your finger, etc. But in case of chronic pain, the nerve signals keep on firing even after your wound is healed.
Types Of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can be mainly categorized into six types such as:
Nociceptive pain is a type of pain either detected in the tissues(like muscle and skin tissue) or organs by specialized sensory nerves. Nociceptors(specialized sensory nerves) detect the painful stimuli, which sends information to the spinal cord and brain for interpretation and giving response. This pain may be either somatic or visceral. For example Headaches, Arthritis, Pelvic pain, Muscle pain(Fibromyalgia), etc.
Somatic pain is a kind of nociceptive pain. This pain is generally detected by sensory nerves in the muscles, and skin tissues. If you are facing somatic pain, specialized sensory nerves transmit pain messages to the spinal cord and brain for interpretation. It is often easy to detect, as sensory nerves are well-distributed throughout the soft tissues of the body. Examples of somatic pain are Arthritis, bone fracture, tension headaches, back pain, pelvic pain due to joint instability, etc.
Somatic pain is like chronic headaches in which the constriction of blood vessels generates pain or arthritis in which joints become swollen. This pain can be severe and is usually treated with either NSAIDs or opioid pain relievers.
Visceral pain is also another type of nociceptive pain. Visceral pain is located by sensory nerves in the body’s internal organs. Like somatic pain, in visceral pain, it is also sent to the spinal cord and brain for interpretation. Nociceptors in the internal organs are not as distributed as they are in the body’s muscles and skin. This can make visceral pain feel dull and hard to detect. Examples of visceral pain are Prostate pain, Endometriosis, Pain in the bladder, Irritable bowel, etc.
Neuropathic pain is somewhat different from nociceptive pain, in that the nerves are not often working “normally”. This type of pain is due to nerve disturbances and spontaneous transmission of pain signals to the spinal cord and brain. The possible causes of neuropathic pain are nerve irritation and nerve damage. Examples of neuropathic pain include Sciatica, Pain of post-mastectomy, Peripheral neuropathy, etc.
Psychogenic pain is caused due to psychological disorders, like depression or anxiety. Most of the psychological disorders include physical complications( fatigue and muscle aches). As psychogenic pain doesn’t have any physical origin, it tends to be more difficult to treat as compared to nociceptive or neuropathic pain. Although this type of pain is real, it may need a different treatment approach than other physical types of pain. Non-pharmaceutical pain treatments, including antidepressants or other psychological medications, are far more effective than other traditional painkillers.
Idiopathic pain occurs when there are unknown physical or psychological symptoms. Idiopathic pain can’t be located back to nociceptive, neuropathic or psychogenic symptoms. Although the actual cause of this pain is not detectable with the existing medical knowledge, it is still very real. This pain occurs more in people who have pre-existing pain disorders such as Fibromyalgia and TMJ.
Treatment Of Chronic Pain
Firstly, understanding that chronic pain is a serious issue is the most important step in finding chronic pain treatment. First of all, consult with your doctor about chronic pain symptoms. Together you can easily trace the source of the pain and can come up with a comprehensive treatment plan that takes account of your overall health and everyday lifestyle. Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications are often used to manage chronic pain. However, for many people, it is usually a combination of treatments. These medications may be combined with:
- Physical therapy.
- Relaxation techniques.
- Psychological counseling.
- OTC Medications For Chronic Pain
Some of the examples of OTC pain relievers are acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These NSAIDs may include aspirin.naproxen and ibuprofen. Combinations of acetaminophen and NSAIDs can be utilized successfully in order to relieve mild pain. NSAIDs help in reducing the inflammation and swelling. If you use both these drugs for a longer time then they may have severe side effects. So it is strongly recommended that you should consult with your doctor before using any OTC medication for chronic pain.
Prescription Medications For Chronic Pain
Some chronic pain can’t be controlled with the help of Over-The-Counter medication. In these situations, your doctor may prescribe some stronger medications such as Nonopioids(aspirin, NSAIDs, and acetaminophen), Opioids(morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone), adjuvant analgesics(antidepressants and anticonvulsants).
However, these medications can cause many side effects, mild to severe. Consult with your doctor immediately if you are experiencing any of these unusual symptoms such as breathing problems, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, abnormal heartbeat, etc.
Trigger Point Injections
Trigger points are the special type of tender(soft and gentle) areas within the muscles. Injections of a local anesthetic, including a steroid, used to relieve pain in these tender areas. However, not all adults have trigger points. These points are usually located in people with specific conditions like Fibromyalgia, Pelvic pain, and Myofascial pain syndrome.
If chronic pain is not reduced by prescription medications or OTC, then there are other alternatives such as a surgical implant. There are various types of implants that are generally used for pain relief. Infusion pain pumps can transfer the medicines directly wherever required, like to the spinal cord. Spinal cord stimulation utilizes electricity to change the pain signals sent to the brain.
Alternative Therapies For Chronic Pain
Alternative therapies can be helpful in reducing chronic pain. Therapies such as cognitive therapies, behavioral therapies, and physical therapies, etc. These types of treatments enable people to take more active roles in pain management.
Regular exercise and physical therapies play a very important role in pain management activities. Regular exercise is useful for treating chronic pain because it helps in strengthening the muscles, improves sleep, increases joint mobility, etc.
Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and massage are helpful in reducing stress and decreasing muscle tension. Yoga also has many advantages in reducing chronic pain. It can also strengthen muscles and improve flexibility.
Acupuncture And Acupressure
Acupuncture and acupressure are useful in relieving pain by manipulating the key points of the body. This also prompts the body to release the endorphins which block pain messages from being transmitted to the brain.
Biofeedback is another type of technique for pain management activity. It works by measuring the information about physical characteristics like muscle tension, brain activity, and skin temperature. This feedback is used to improve an individual’s awareness of physical changes related to stress or pain. As awareness helps a person to train themselves on how to manage the physical and emotional pain.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) provides a small electric current to specific nerves in the body. The current interrupt pain signals and triggers the release of endorphins for reducing chronic pain.
In short, we can say that there are different types of chronic pain which usually lasts for three to six months. Although, there are various treatment options available for treating chronic pain. It is recommended that you should talk to your doctor about your chronic pain symptoms. Then your doctor helps you by prescribing a combination of alternatives and medical treatments used to manage your symptoms.