Pain is a perception that signals the individual that tissue damage has occurred or may be occurring. It is subjective and very complex. The processes in the body that are involved in the perception of pain are called “nociception.”
Pain can be “acute” or “chronic.” Acute pain lasts a short time, or is expected to be over soon. The time frame may be as brief as seconds or as long as weeks.
Chronic pain may be defined as pain that lasts beyond the healing of an injury, continues for a period of several months or longer, or occurs frequently for at least months.
To develop the best treatment strategies, health care professionals also classify pain based on its characteristics, its cause, or the mechanisms in the body or the mind that are probably involved in sustaining it. One common classification based on mechanisms distinguishes pain into categories called “nociceptive,” “neuropathic,” and “psychogenic.”
Types of Pain
Nociceptive Pain: Nociceptive pain is believed to be caused by the ongoing activation of pain receptors in either the surface or deep tissues of the body. There are two types: “somatic” pain and ” visceral” pain.
“Somatic” pain is caused by injury to skin, muscles, bone, joint, and connective tissues. Deep somatic pain is usually described as dull or aching, and localized in one area. Somatic pain from injury to the skin or the tissues just below it often is sharper and may have a burning or pricking quality.
Somatic pain often involves inflammation of injured tissue. Although inflammation is a normal response of the body to injury, and is essential for healing, inflammation that does not disappear with time can result in a chronically painful disease. The joint pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis may be considered an example of this type of somatic nociceptive pain.
“Visceral” pain refers to pain that originates from ongoing injury to the internal organs or the tissues that support them. When the injured tissue is a hollow structure, like the intestine or the gall bladder, the pain often is poorly localized and cramping. When the injured structure is not a hollow organ, the pain may be pressure-like, deep, and stabbing.
Neuropathic Pain: Neuropathic pain is believed to be caused by changes in the nervous system that sustain pain even after an injury heals. In most cases, the injury that starts the pain involves the peripheral nerves or the central nervous system itself. It can be associated with trauma or with many different types of diseases, such as diabetes. There are many neuropathic pain syndromes, such as diabetic neuropathy, trigeminal neuralgia, postherpetic neuralgia (“shingles”), post-stroke pain, and complex regional pain syndromes (also called reflex sympathetic dystrophy or “RSD” and causalgia). Some patients who get neuropathic pain describe it as bizarre, unfamiliar pain, which may be burning or like electricity. The pain may be associated with sensitivity of the skin.
Psychogenic Pain: Most patients with chronic pain have some degree of psychological disturbance. Patients may be anxious or depressed, or have trouble coping. Psychological distress may not only be a consequence of the pain, but may also contribute to the pain itself. “Psychogenic” pain is a simple label for all kinds of pain that can be best explained by psychological problems.
This close relationship between pain and psychological distress means that all patients with chronic pain should have an assessment of these psychological factors, and psychological treatments should be considered an important aspect of pain therapy. In some cases, psychological problems appear to be a main cause of the pain. This does not mean that the person is not actually experiencing the pain. Rather, the patient is truly suffering but the main cause somehow relates to the emotions, or to learning, or to some other psychological process. Although doctors sometimes encounter patients who pretend to be in pain (some can be called malingerers), this appears to be a rare occurrence. Most patients with pain that appears to be determined primarily by psychological processes are hurting just like those who have pain associated with a clear injury to the body.
Western medicine has ignored the connection between the body and emotions, spirit and mind. People often experience connections between the emotional and physical, but this connection is usually ignored. You need to begin a journey towards true health. Start by paying attention to the following signs:
Pain in your head.
Headaches are often caused by stress, meaning that if you are looking for a way to alleviate this pain naturally, you need to take a break, relax, and settle down.
Pain in your neck.
If you feel pain in your neck, you may have trouble forgiving others or yourself. If you’re feeling neck pain, consider the things you love about people.
Pain in your shoulders.
Shoulder pain may indicate that you’re carrying a heavy emotional burden. That’s where the saying “shouldering a problem” comes from. Focus in on some proactive problem solving and distributing some of that burden to other people in your life.
Pain in your upper back.
This type of pain often indicates that you are lacking emotional support, which makes you feel unwanted. Therefore, in case you are still single, go out and focus on proactive problem solving.
Pain in your lower back.
Lower back pain might mean you’re too worried about money. It may be a good time to ask for that overdue raise or consider a financial planner.
Pain in your elbows.
Elbow pain speaks to your resistance to change in your life. If you have stiff arms, you may have a stiff life as well. Make compromises and shake things up a little bit.
Pain in your hands.
Pain in the hands means that you are quite unsociable person who fails to reach out to others in the right way. Try to make new connections by going out with co-workers, neighbors, etc.
Pain in your hips.
Hip pain means you’re too scared of moving. Sore hips could indicate that you’re resistant to moving on and changing. You might be too cautious when making decisions.
Pain in the knees.
Knee pain can be a sign that your ego is a little too big and that you’re thinking of yourself a little too highly. Humble yourself. Spend some time volunteering. Remember, you’re mortal.
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