A guide to understanding different types of chronic pain and the best ways to help control them

Joint and back pain are two of the top reasons a patient schedules a visit to their healthcare provider. Yet, there is still a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding of the mechanism of different types of pain. Chronic pain has multiple causes, and should be treated with multiple therapies for the best approach to pain relief.

Types of Pain

Acute Pain (Nociception) – the most common type of pain, occurs when you grab a hot coffee or sprain your ankle. Nociceptors throughout the body signal the brain that injury has occurred resulting in a quick response to remove the cause. These pain signals travel along pain pathways and the neural messages can be amplified or blunted along the way. This pain is easily defined by as a result of an injury and should lessen as the body heals. It is sharp and the source is usually easy to identify.

Neuropathic Pain – This type of pain is most commonly associated with Diabetic Neuropathy or Fibromyalgia. It is also more difficult to treat because there is an absence of a clearly defined source. Pain signals to the brain are amplified and/or misdirected (Allodynia). Three distinct types of Alloydynia include pain when the skin is touched, pain upon movement, and pain when exposed to hot or cold.

Chronic Pain – People with chronic pain will more than likely have both types of pain. Chronic pain can be defined as pain that lingers 3 – 6 months after an injury has healed. Sometimes, there is no clearly defined origin. For example, a patient suffering from a backache may not be able to identify any strain or injury prior to the onset of pain. Chronic pain can be local, random, mild to severe. Patients suffering from chronic pain may see no end in sight, as as a result may also suffer from depression and despair, and may even have suicidal tendencies.

Inflammatory Pain – Patients may also complain of inflammatory pain. This is often indicated by redness, tenderness, warmth and swelling around the affected area. Typically a patient suffering from osteoarthritis will experience this type of Chronic Pain.

Acute Inflammatory Pain – is usually the result of an injury, such as a sprain. The swelling subsides as the injury heals. But inflammation can also become chronic inflammatory pain.

Visceral Pain – is most commonly associated with cancer patients. Visceral pain is usually very severe, hard to pinpoint and may be accompanied by nausea, headache, cramping or tiredness. This type of pain can feel like something is tugging or pulling on an internal organ.

Pain Awareness – diagnosing patients with chronic pain and formulating a treatment plan can is a process of identifying the different types of pain and the causes. Is it sharp or dull? Is it constant or intermittent? Does is come on quickly and dissipate quickly? Does a certain movement aggravate the pain? Is it a combination of multiple symptoms?

Pain Assessment – A health care professional must be able to identify and quantify each location of patient pain and what makes the pain better or worse. Sometimes it is helpful to ask the patient to keep a pain diary, in which they describe the pain, duration, time of day, and what they were doing when the pain started, or when it became more severe. The clinician may then be able to identify a pattern and suggest lifestyle, dietary and other changes that may offer some relief.

Treatment of Chronic Pain – A Holistic Approach

It is reasonable to believe that since chronic pain is often the result of multiple causes, and effective treatment must also include multiple therapies. Chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture, massage, physical therapy and nutritional counseling can be combined for a holistic approach and can be in addition to traditional medical treatment.

It is also reasonable to assume that individual treatments may not have the desired results unless it is combined with other treatments. For example, chiropractic adjustments may provide instant pain relief, but will require follow up care such as icing to reduce swelling, and physical therapy to strengthen muscles.

Patient Education

A patient should be informed of all of their options involving the treatment of chronic pain. Both traditional medicine and holistic medicine can be combined to help resolve the underlying issues that cause the patient’s pain. Selecting a holistic provider that offers multiple modes of treatment within their practice can simplify the process of developing a treatment plan that includes both pain relief and pain prevention. The clinicians at Active Health are able to provide Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Nutritional Counseling and other therapies to help relieve patients suffering from chronic pain. Some holistic treatments are covered and we are top tier providers with most major insurance companies. (Ranking in higher tiers results in faster care due to little or no pre approval requirements by some insurance). Call us today to arrange for a consultation. We are here to help.