Nociceptive (most common) pain

I think of nociceptive pain as ‘common’ pain.  Examples of nociceptive pain include an ankle sprain, a paper cut, non specific low back pain and a burn from a hot oven tray.

It can be thought of as pain associated with tissue damage, or sometimes potential tissue damage.  For example you may move your hand quickly away from the hot oven tray and experience a brief period of pain without any damage to your skin.  This pain has indicated potential tissue damage and has acted as an effective early warning system helping you to act by pulling your hand away.  If you touch the tray for longer you may experience both tissue damage and pain.  

If you have burnt yourself, then ongoing pain can help you remember to take care of the wound whilst the healing process occurs. 

Nociceptors are sensory endings on nerves that can be excited or sensitized and signal potential, or actual, tissue damage.  Whether or not this nociceptor excitation is actually experienced as pain depends on many factors including the context of the experience and the priority your brain/mind gives to the potential threat of injury.

Neuropathic pain

Neuropathic pain is caused by a dysfunction of one or more nerves and is often described as tingling, burning or shooting pain.  It can be constantly present or it can vary. 

People often get this type of pain when they have shingles, sciatica, cervical or lumbar radiculopathy, trigeminal neuralgia, or diabetic neuropathy.

Nociplastic pain

Nociplastic pain has no identifiable source.  It can be caused by an over-sensitive nervous system. 

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Last modified: 28/12/2020