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Different Types of Pain

Here are some of the different types of pain and how they impact performance in daily life. There are four common types of pain, but some pain can fit into more than one category. The four most common types of pain are:


Acute pain
Chronic pain
Neuropathic pain
Nociceptive pain


Acute pain means the pain is relatively short in duration. It can last from minutes to months. Acute pain is often related to a soft-tissue injury or a temporary illness. This pain typically subsides after the injury heals or the illness subsides. Acute pain from an injury may evolve into chronic pain if the injury doesn’t heal correctly or if the pain signals malfunction.


Chronic pain is longer in duration and can be constant or intermittent. For example, headaches can be considered chronic pain when they continue over many months or years. This is true even if the pain isn’t always present. Chronic pain is often due to a health condition, like arthritis, fibromyalgia, or a spine condition, but can also exist because of an injury.

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Nociceptive pain is a type of pain caused by damage to body tissue. It is often described as being a sharp, achy, or throbbing pain and is frequently caused by an external injury. For example, if you hit your elbow, stub your toe, twist your ankle, or fall and scrape up your knee, you may feel nociceptive pain. This type of pain is often experienced in the joints, muscles, skin, tendons, and bones. It can be both acute and chronic.


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Neuropathic pain exists due to damage to the nerves or other parts of the nervous system. This type of pain is often described as shooting, stabbing, or burning pain. It could also feel like pins and needles, affect sensitivity to touch, and can make someone have difficulty feeling hot or cold sensations. Neuropathic pain is a common type of chronic pain. It may be intermittent or so severe it makes performing everyday tasks difficult. Some chronic pain can interfere with normal movement, which can also lead to mobility issues.


Central neuropathic pain can result from lesions within the spinal cord like those from multiple sclerosis or from spinal cord injury. Certain types of strokes may also cause central neuropathic pain. Peripheral neuropathic pain arises from lesions affecting peripheral nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, causing weakness, numbness, and pain.


These may or may not pertain to you, but they could be fun facts to share at the dinner table.