What is causing your pain?
When your body tells you it’s in pain, you should listen. As pain becomes an everyday occurrence, it can impede your routine activities. Pain is the body’s simplest way of telling you something is wrong.
Types of pain
Pain can be separated into two main categories: nociceptive and neuropathic.
Nociceptive pain is caused by an accident or physical injury that impacts the muscles, tendons, ligaments or capsules around the joints.
“Nociceptive pain is often described as sharp, achy, dull or throbbing,” says Dr. Mansoor Aman, an anesthesiologist at Aurora Medical Center in Oshkosh, Wis. “The source is likely a point of contact or where injury first occurred.”
Neuropathic pain, or “nerve pain”, can be caused by a variety of illnesses such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, HIV or cancer.
“Unlike nociceptive pain, nerve pain occurs when something is wrong within your nervous system. A damaged or irritated nerve sends the body ‘false’ pain signals,” Dr. Aman says. “You may experience burning, stabbing or shooting pain that often accompanies numbness or tingling.”
Pain as a symptom
“It is important to remember that pain is a symptom,” explains Dr. Aman. “Treatment varies based on the type of pain and the underlying cause. Since nerves play a part in all pain, it may be difficult to pinpoint whether your pain is nociceptive or neuropathic.”
To determine a course of treatment, a doctor may ask many questions to help determine whether your pain is nociceptive or neuropathic – or both.
“How the pain is experienced – when, where and what it feels like – can tell us a little more about what may be causing it,” says Dr. Aman.
Once a cause has been identified, it can be treated in order to halt progression or reoccurrence of your pain. However, some causes are more treatable than others. For example, a stroke cannot be reversed, but diabetes can be treated with insulin, diet or weight management.
Some pain relief options include:
- Topical treatments
- Pain killers
- Injections for pain
- Physical therapy
- Nerve stimulation
- Lifestyle changes
About the Author
Cali Nygren, health enews contributor, is a marketing intern for Aurora BayCare with a BA in business administration from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay. In her spare time, you may find Cali cracking jokes, watching Marvel movies, and spending time with her friends and family.