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Are There Different Kinds of Chronic Pain?
This type begins when some sort of damage to the body’s tissues triggers signals to be sent up the nervous system to the brain. Most people are familiar with this type of pain since it can be caused by temporary issues such as a bee sting. The pain usually changes if a person moves or places pressure on the injured part of the body. Types of chronic pain that fall into this category are often caused by things such as inflammatory arthritis or a tumor located somewhere in the body.
This type of pain is often referred to as nerve damage. Injuries to any part of your nervous system can lead to chronic pain because nerves do not always heal. People have described neuropathic pain as feeling like burning or electrical shocks shooting through the affected part of their body. People with diabetes, alcohol addiction and that have gone through chemotherapy are at a higher risk for this type of pain, but it can also follow a common injury that simply does not heal properly.
What is Chronic Pain?
Common Causes of Chronic Pain
Migraines are a type of headache that tends to be recurring and often generates debilitating pain that interferes with a person’s ability to carry out their normal daily activities. A migraine may be triggered by stress, hormones and even certain scents. The pain is often described as throbbing or a constant ache that occurs in a certain part of the head. Other symptoms are sometimes present with migraines such as sensitive to light or sound. Migraines are categorized according to the location of the pain and how long it lasts, which makes it important to seek an accurate diagnosis. A true severe migraine does not usually respond to over-the-counter pain medications, and the pain can last for hours.
This condition occurs when something in a person’s body disrupts the normal functioning of nerves in the peripheral nervous system. There are three types of nerves in the peripheral nervous system, and these include sensory, motor and automatic nerve types. Depending upon the cause of the disruption, a person may have only one type of nerve affected or all of them at the same time. Older adults, men and people who engage in activities that involve repetitive stress are all at greater risk for developing neuropathy. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a form of this cause of chronic pain.
Pain from a cancerous lesion or tumor can have several causes. A growing tumor often places pressure on the nerves in the spinal column, and this can cause a person to experience pain when they move certain ways or do things such as cough or sneeze. Bone pain can happen if the cancer spreads to the bones, or it can be caused by certain medications. People tend to describe bone pain as deep and penetrating.
A fibromyalgia diagnosis often comes after a person has dealt with widespread pain at various points on their body for a significant period of time. There are often specific tender points on a person’s body that hurt no matter what types of medications a person tries to use to find relief. It is also common to feel general flu-like aches throughout the body that feels almost like a person’s muscles have been overstrained. The pain can be strong enough at night that it interferes with sleep.
Autoimmune diseases are often associated with chronic pain. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the joints. This leads to inflammation that places pressure on the nerves in the joints, and it often starts with the smaller joints in the fingers and toes. The disease also tends to affect both joints on the body, which creates symmetrical pain. This is a progressive condition that can be controlled to some degree with medications, but most people continue to experience pain for the rest of their lives.
Acute back pain is often treatable through strategic such as physical therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs. However, many types of back pain does not respond to treatment, and this is when the condition is called intractable. Degenerative disc disease is one type of intractable back pain that accompanies the aging process and cannot be reversed.
CRPS occurs when the pain from an injury becomes chronic and continues to generate symptoms for more than six months. The first sign of CRPS is usually when the pain continues after the affected part of the body is determined to have healed. Since it begins after an injury, it usually only affects one limb. However, pain may radiate or shoot from certain parts of the body to another one such as from the foot and up the leg.
This is another autoimmune disorder that is systemic and involves the immune system attacking the body’s tissues and organs. Joint pain is common with lupus, and it may come and go as the person experiences flares of this disease. Since lupus can affect almost any part of the body, pain can also occur due to problems with the organs such as the kidneys.
Sudden and repeated attacks of nausea and vomiting are considered cyclic, and there may not be an obvious underlying cause. Cyclic vomiting can also occur with other health conditions such as cancer. Abdominal pain with this condition can be severe, and frequent vomiting also causes acids to build up in the esophagus, throat and mouth that feels like constant burning.
Facial pain that is triggered by every day actions such as brushing your teeth may be trigeminal neuralgia. There is an intricate system of nerves in the face that all communicate with the brain, and any inflammation or damage in this system can lead to severe and chronic pain that feels like jabbing electrical shocks through the face. The pain may only last for a few minutes, but it is typically severe and the attacks tend to become more frequent and painful over time. The pain may occur around the jawline, eyes, cheek, lips and gums. It can also spread up to the forehead, but it usually only affects one side of the face at a time.
The digestive system is also a cause of pain that becomes long-term. Gastroparesis happens the stomach begins to slow down and doesn’t empty itself properly. This can cause large meals to become backed up in the stomach and leads to symptoms such as nausea, heartburn and abdominal pain. People with gastroparesis may need to eat smaller meals, and pain relief is an important part of their treatment to help them get enough nutrition when it hurts to eat.
Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that generates symptoms that people sometimes mistake for a different type of infection at first. Joint pain, muscle fatigue and general inflammation are all common symptoms of these disease. Antibiotics are the first line of therapy for people with this disease, and they usually clear up the infection within three to four weeks. In some cases, however, the symptoms become chronic. At that point, pain management becomes a priority since the primary infection is gone.
An inflamed pancreas has been described as creating some of the worst pain imaginable. The pain is usually a burning sensation that starts in the abdomen and radiates around the body towards the back. People with chronic pancreatitis are often unable to function normally due to the severity of the pain.
An amputation sometimes doesn’t bring complete relief from the symptoms of the health condition that warranted removing a limb. Many people continue to feel sensations in the area where the limb used to be that include tingling, pain and itchiness. This pain comes from a mix-up of signals between the brain and the spinal cord. Due to the nature of this pain, medical professionals often recommend using different types of medication than what is used for general discomforts. Pain treatments that target the parts of the brain where this pain originates helps bring greater relief for phantom sensations.