Pain: Types and Treatment Options

Pain is subjective. Intensity, duration, feeling – everyone feels their own pain and the way it is described is unique to us all. Despite the individuality of pain, it can be classified into somatic, visceral and neuropathic. In addition it can also be broken down into acute (less than 3 months in duration) and chronic (more than 3 months in duration). In many cases, particularly chronic, a physical vector is difficult to identify in order to explain the origin of the symptoms. This often leads medical staff to dismiss a patient’s symptoms as psychological. But whether an origin can be identified or not, if the patient feels these symptoms, then to them they are real and require treatment. This article will discuss the types of pain felt by patients and some treatment options available in order to alleviate the symptoms of somatic and neuropathic pain.

 

Types:

Somatic:

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Somatic pain is caused my activation of receptors in the skin, muscles, ligaments and tendons. It is typically described as deep, dull or like an ache. Symptoms are often generalised to a specific area or region, more often the cause of the symptoms. This type of pain usually arises after injury, post surgery, in an area of inflammation or after vigorous exercise. Symptoms are exacerbated by movement and generally ease at rest.

Treatment Options:
– Electrotherapy
– Laser
– Ultrasound
– Manual therapy
– Myofascial manipulation
– Kinesiotaping
– Exercise prescription
Neuropathic:

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Neuropathic pain originates from damage or irritation to the spinal cord and/or peripheral nerves. It is typically described as burning, shooting, tingling or a “pins and needles” type sensation. It often travels along the nerve’s distribution and typically occurs at or below the level of an injury or origin of the problem. A common example is that of sciatica, whereby compression at the nerve root in the lumbar spine causes shooting pains into the buttock, back of the leg and down into the calf and foot. Other common examples include tingling in the thumb and first two fingers (possibly following a neck injury or thoracic outlet syndrome) – i.e. pain traveling along the median nerve.

Treatment Options:
– Neurodynamics
– Patient education and cognitive behavioral therapy
– Exercise prescription
– Manual therapy

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