Pain – What type do you have?

How pain is experienced can only be described by the person in pain. There are many different types of pain that all affect daily life and affect the quality of life. There are various treatment options for those living with long-term pain.

Depending on what type of pain you have, treatment should be tailored to your particular type of pain, age and other illnesses you may have.

The many faces of pain

Pain can have many faces ranging from a slight tenderness to a sharp persistent pain state. The pain can come quickly and is then called acute or last for a long time. If the pain has been present for more than six months, it is regarded as prolonged. You don’t have to be in pain all the time, but the pain can come and go. Many people suffering from long-term pain have not yet been diagnosed. The pain can be central, then the pain is caused by damage to the brain or spinal cord (multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, stroke, etc.) or peripheral. In peripheral nerve pain, the injury is outside the brain and spinal cord (shingles, hernias, surgical injuries, etc.)

To understand where the pain is, doctors will usually divide it based on its origin:

  • Nociceptive pain – Tissue injury pain, eg bone fracture, burns
  • Neuropathic pain – nerve pain 
  • Pain without known cause – Other pain conditions

Test what type of pain you have

There are different types of pain and depending on the type of pain you have it should be treated differently. Two common pains are common nociceptive pain (tissue pain) most often caused by injury or wear, the other being peripheral neuropathic pain (nerve pain) that often results from bodily injury, surgery, shingles or diabetes. In order to get a correct diagnosis of your pain, a doctor needs to have evidence that can be helpful in the assessment. Finding the right type of pain below can help your doctor get a clearer picture of your pain.

Here’s how: Choose the different types of pain that fit your pain and indicate on a scale from 1 to 10 how intense the pain is (1 = no pain, 10 = worst possible pain).

  • ☐ Dumbbells
  • ☐ Ryp Creeps
  • ☐ Knitting
  • ☐ Molande
  • ☐ Burning
  • ☐ Landing
  • ☐ Chopping/cutting
  • ☐ Bolting/pulsating
  • ☐ Pressing

Diagnosis in pain

Nerve pain is difficult to diagnose and is likely to be severely underestimated. A rough estimate is that 1.5% of American population (75,000 women and 55,000 men) suffer from nerve pain that requires treatment. This corresponds to 4,700 new cases per year, of which 2,700 are women and 2,000 men.

The most common cause of nerve pain is injuries that occur during surgery. More than one million surgeries are performed annually and there are data that 2-10% of patients undergoing surgery suffer from long-term and severe treatment-requiring nerve pain. 

Treatment for pain

It is important to seek help and get the cause of your pain investigated and get under treatment as soon as possible. Today, there are a number of effective treatment options for common pain and nerve pain. Because there are many different pain states, there are many different treatment methods. No method will help in any kind of pain, but the treatment must be adapted to each individual. You can try different methods to find what is best helped.

Cooling or heat Temporary, mild pain can be dampened by cooling or heat. In case of acute injury, such as a sprain, cold can reduce the pain. For menstrual pain or pain due to stiff muscles, a superficial heat treatment using a heat pad, for example, can feel good.

Painkillers What medication you get depends primarily on the type of pain it is about, how severe the pain is experienced and any side effects such as sleep disorders. There are several different remedies for pain and the doctor must also take into account, among other things, age and if you have other illnesses or other medicines. The most common drug treatment for nerve pain is centrally acting antidepressants or antiepileptics.

Nerve Electrical Stimulation TENS is an abbreviation for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. It is a method of pain relief, which means that nerves under the skin are stimulated by electric currents, which causes the body’s own pain relief system to be activated. If you have severe nerve pain, you can receive treatment with spinal cord stimulation instead of TENS. Then a special electrode is operated against the spinal cord and the stimulation is done via a box under the skin.

Nerve blocks Nerve blocks are mainly used as anesthesia during and after surgery. When you get a temporary nerve block, local anesthetic is injected near the nerve. The effect lasts for up to a few hours. The anesthetic can be prolonged by inserting a thin tube next to the nerve and more anesthetic being added via the tube. The blockage can be repeated a few times, but should not be used as a regular treatment for a long time.

There are also other treatment options such as relaxation, massage and stretching of the muscles, physiotherapy and acupuncture. Combined training and cognitive behavioral therapy, can reduce some types of long-term pain. You can also get a training program that has been tested by a physiotherapist,  chiropractor.

The pain-relieving effect and side effects of different drugs can differ from one person to another. Therefore, it may happen that you have to try different medicines until you find one that works well against the pain without giving too troublesome side effects.

Local treatment for pain

In the case of peripheral neuropathic pain, one can choose to treat systemically or locally. Systemically, the drug enters the body in a different place from where pain is experienced, that is, as an injection elsewhere on the body or as a tablet. Tablet therapy is common in pain. The disadvantage of tablet treatment is side effects such as fatigue, dizziness and problems with the stomach and intestines.

The opposite of systemic treatment is local treatment. The Dental and Medicines Benefit Agency approved in 2011 to subsidize a patch specifically developed for the treatment of local nerve pain. The active substance in the patch is a synthetic form of the substance capsaicin, a substance found in chili fruits. The clinical trial programs that formed the basis of the TLV decision showed, among other things, that the patch significantly reduced nerve pain in patients and also had a long-lasting effect. One hour of treatment with the patch can provide up to 3 months of pain relief. This type of local pain treatment is prescription so talk to your doctor for further advice on treatment.

Important to get help

For people who have had long-term pain, it is important to seek help and get the cause investigated. Which treatment is most suitable depends on the type of pain you have. Therefore, before seeking help, it is good to describe yourself – as comprehensively as possible – how and where it hurts. It is also important to consider how pain affects work, social life or private life. By answering a questionnaire and/or keeping a so-called pain diary, the pain can be described. It can give good guidance to the doctor who will investigate the cause.

Man is good at getting used to different types of impressions and events, but studies have shown that pain and noise are two stimuli that man does not adapt to. Constant pain leads to lower quality of life, so it is important that you get help with your particular type of pain.

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