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Pain Classifications and Types

Pain Classifications
and Types


Everything about Pain Classifications and Types

Most of us, it’s safe to say, aren’t huge fans of suffering. Nonetheless, it is one of the most vital communication tools in the human body. Consider what would happen if you didn’t feel anything when you placed your hand on a hot burner. Pain is one way the body communicates that something is amiss and needs to be addressed.

However, pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience, whether it comes from a bee sting, a fractured bone, or a long-term sickness. It has a variety of causes, and people react to it in a variety of ways. Someone else might be incapacitated by the anguish you are pushing through.

Even though pain is experienced differently by each individual, the many types of pain can be classified. Here’s a rundown of the various forms of pain and how they differ from one another.

Types of pain

“What are the different types of pain?” we are frequently asked. This is both a straightforward and complex response. There are five different forms of pain, but some of them overlap, which is where the difficulty comes in.
The following are the five most prevalent types of Pain Classifications and Types:
  • Acute pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Nociceptive pain
  • Radicular pain

Acute Pain

Acute pain is a type of pain that develops quickly and has a definite cause, which is usually tissue injury. It usually lasts less than six months and disappears after the underlying reason is addressed.

Acute pain is usually acute or powerful at first, then gradually improves.

The following are common causes of acute pain:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Cuts
  • Dental Work
  • Labour & childbirth

Chronic pain is defined as pain that persists for more than six months after the original injury has healed.

Chronic pain can endure for years and might vary in intensity from day to day. It’s also fairly widespread, with an estimated 50 million adults in the United States affected.

Chronic pain can be caused by past injuries or damage, but occasionally there is no obvious cause.

Chronic pain might begin to affect your quality of life if it is not well managed. As a result, persons who suffer from chronic pain may experience anxiety or sadness.

Other signs and symptoms of chronic pain include:

  • Lack of energy
  • Limited mobility
  • Tense muscles

The following are some examples of chronic pain:

Nociceptive pain

The most prevalent sort of pain is nociceptive pain. It’s caused by the stimulation of nociceptors, which are tissue injury pain receptors. Nociceptors can be found all over your body, but especially in your skin and internal organs. They produce electrical messages to your brain when they’re aroused by possible harm, such as a cut or other injury, leading you to feel pain. This is the kind of pain you get when you have an injury or inflammation. Acute or persistent nociceptive discomfort is possible. It can also be divided into two types: visceral and somatic.

Visceral pain

Injuries or damage to your internal organs causes visceral pain. You can feel it in your chest, abdomen, and pelvis, which are all located in the trunk section of your body. The exact location of visceral pain is often difficult to determine.

The following are common descriptions of visceral pain:

  • Aching
  • Cramping
  • Pressure
  • Squeezing

Other symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, as well as changes in body temperature, heart rate, or blood pressure, may be present.

The following are some examples of things that produce visceral pain:

  • Appendicitis
  • Gallstones
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)


The stimulation of pain receptors in your tissues, rather than your internal organs, causes somatic pain. Your skin, muscles, joints, connective tissues, and bones are all part of this. The site of somatic pain is typically easier to pinpoint than visceral pain.

Somatic pain is typically described as a gnawing or agonising sensation.

It’s further divided into two types: deep and superficial:

  • A tendon tear, for example, will result in deep somatic pain, whilst a canker sore on your inner check will result in superficial somatic discomfort.

Here are some examples of somatic pain:

  • Arthritic pain and other joint pain
  • Cuts, scratches, and burns to the skin
  • Disorders of the connective tissue, such as osteoporosis
  • Fractured bones
  • Muscular tension
  • Skin cancer and bone cancer

Damage to or dysfunction of the nerve system causes neuropathic pain. Damaged or defective nerves misfire pain impulses as a result. This pain appears to appear out of nowhere, unrelated to any specific injury.

You may also experience pain in response to non-painful stimuli, such as chilly air or garments pressed against your skin.

Neuropathic pain is defined as follows:

  • Burning
  • Electric shocks
  • Freezing
  • Numbness
  • Shooting
  • Stabbing
  • Tingling

Neuropathic pain is frequently caused by diabetes. Other nerve injuries or dysfunctions that might cause neuropathic pain include:

  • Accidents
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Central nervous system disorders, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Chronic alcohol consumption
  • Facial nerve problems, such as Bell’s palsy
  • HIV
  • Infections
  • Radiation
  • Shingles
  • Spinal nerve inflammation or compression

Radicular pain

Radicular pain is a type of pain that occurs when a spinal nerve becomes crushed or irritated. It travels through the spine and spinal nerve root from the back and hip to the leg(s). Tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness are common symptoms of radicular pain. Radiculopathy is pain that radiates from the back into the leg. The discomfort is frequently referred to as sciatica because the sciatic nerve is involved. This form of pain is usually constant, and it can be felt deep in the leg. Walking, sitting, and a variety of other activities might aggravate sciatica. One of the most prevalent types of radicular pain is sciatica.

Other Ways Pain Is Classified

Pain is frequently classified according to the type of injury that generates it. Pain induced by tissue injury, also known as nociceptive pain, and pain caused by nerve damage, also known as neuropathic pain, are the two main types. Psychogenic pain is a third type of pain that is influenced by psychological variables. Most psychogenic pain has a physical source, such as tissue or nerve injury, but the pain generated by that damage is exacerbated or prolonged by psychological variables such as fear, depression, stress, or anxiety. Pain can sometimes be caused by a psychological problem.

Pain can also be categorised according to the type of tissue involved or the affected bodily portion. Pain can be classified as muscular or joint pain, for example. A doctor might also inquire about chest or back pain.

Syndromes are names for different forms of pain. Myofascial pain syndrome, for example, refers to discomfort caused by trigger points in the body’s muscles. One example is fibromyalgia.

Pain Caused by Tissue Damage

The majority of pain is caused by tissue injury. An injury to the body’s tissues has caused discomfort. An injury to bone, soft tissue, or organs is possible. A condition such as cancer can cause damage to body tissue. Physical harm, such as a cut or a fractured bone, can also cause it.

You may feel a dull aching, a sudden stabbing, or a throbbing pain. It could appear and disappear or remain constant. When you move or laugh, the discomfort may get worse. Breathing deeply can sometimes make things worse.

Tissue injury can cause excruciating pain. Sports injuries like a sprained ankle or turf toe, for example, are frequently caused by soft tissue damage. It could also be chronic, such as arthritis or headaches. Additionally, some medical treatments, such as cancer radiation, can induce tissue damage and pain.


Pain Caused by Nerve Damage

Nerves work like electrical power cables, delivering signals to and from the brain, including pain signals. Damage to nerves can create aberrant pain signals by interfering with the way those impulses are conveyed. For example, even if no heat is delivered to the burned area, you may have a burning sensation.

Nerve damage can occur as a result of disorders such as diabetes or trauma. Certain chemotherapy medicines have the potential to harm nerves. Nerve damage can also occur as a result of a stroke or HIV infection, among other things. Damage to the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord, could cause nerve pain. Damage to peripheral nerves, which convey signals to the CNS from the rest of the body, could also cause it.

Nerve injury causes neuropathic pain, which is commonly described as burning or prickling. It’s been described as an electrical jolt by some. Others describe it as a stabbing sensation or pins and needles. Nerve injury makes some people hypersensitive to warmth and touch. The discomfort can be triggered by light touches, such as the touch of a bedsheet.

The majority of neuropathic pain is persistent. The following are some examples of pain induced by damaged nerves:

Central pain syndrome

Syndrome of central pain. Chronic pain caused by injury to the central nervous system characterises this illness. Stroke, MS, tumours, and a variety of other disorders can all cause harm. The pain, which is usually constant and can be severe, can impact a vast area of the body or be limited to specific parts like the hands and feet. Movement, contact, emotions, and temperature changes can all aggravate the discomfort.

Complex regional pain syndrome

The syndrome of complex regional pain. A major injury can result in this persistent pain syndrome. Persistent burning is how it’s described. In the location of pain, abnormal perspiration, changes in skin tone, or swelling may be seen.

Diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain

Peripheral neuropathic pain in diabetics. Diabetic nerve degeneration in the feet, legs, hands, and arms causes this pain. Diabetic neuropathy patients endure a variety of pains, including burning, stabbing, and tingling.

Shingles and postherpetic neuralgia

Postherpetic neuralgia and shingles Shingles are localised infections produced by the same virus as chickenpox. On one side of the body, along the course of a nerve, the rash and accompanying discomfort can be devastating. Postherpetic neuralgia is a typical side effect of shingles that lasts longer than a month.

Trigeminal neuralgia

Neuralgia of the trigeminal nerve. The inflammation of a facial nerve causes discomfort in this illness. The pain is described as strong and lightning-like, and it can strike one side of the face in the lips, scalp, forehead, eye, nose, gums, cheek, and chin. Touching a trigger spot or making a little movement can cause discomfort.

When to call a doctor

Pain is a highly individual feeling that differs from one person to the next. What is excruciatingly painful to one person may simply be mildly painful to another. Other elements that influence how you feel pain include your emotional state and your physical health.

If you accurately describe your pain, it will be easier for your doctor to determine the source of your discomfort and prescribe the appropriate treatment. Before your visit, if feasible, put down specifics about your pain to assist you and be as detailed as possible.

Your doctor will want to know the following:

  • How long you’ve had the pain
  • How often your pain occurs
  • What brought on your pain
  • What activities or movements make your pain better or worse
  • Where you feel the pain
  • Whether your pain is localized to one spot or spread out
  • If your pain comes and goes or is constant

Use terms that best describe the type of discomfort you’re experiencing.

Here are some phrases to consider:

  • Burning
  • Sharp
  • Dull
  • Intense
  • Aching
  • Cramping
  • Shooting
  • Stabbing
  • Gnawing
  • Gripping
  • Pressure
  • Heavy
  • Tender
  • Prickly
  • Stinging

It can also be beneficial to keep a pain diary to track your symptoms. Take note of the following:

  • When it starts
  • How long does it last
  • How it feels
  • Where you feel it
  • How severe it is on a scale of 1 to 10
  • What brought on or triggered the pain
  • What, if anything, made it better
  • Any medications or treatments used

If you keep a pain diary, bring it with you to your next doctor’s appointment.