Resources for patients

Different types of pain

Most of the pain that we feel is caused by actual or threatened damage to the tissues in our bodies. Normally, the pain will go away once the source of the threatened damage is removed (eg you remove your hand from a hot stove) or the damaged tissue heals (eg your strained muscle repairs itself). This type of pain is called acute pain and it serves a useful purpose because it alerts us to danger or makes us rest an injured part of our bodies.

However, for some people, the pain carries on well after an injured tissue has healed or it may have no obvious cause at all. This is called long-lasting, or chronic pain. Chronic pain may be constant or it may come and go. It can be mild or it can be so severe that it impacts on all areas of your life.

The tissues that most commonly become damaged and cause pain are the muscle, skin, bone or internal organs. However, some people suffer pain from damage to nerves themselves. Nerve pain (also known as neuropathic pain) is often accompanied by strange sensations and can be particularly intense.

The following are different types of chronic pain:

Musculoskeletal

  • Back pain.
  • Fibromyalgia.
  • Osteoarthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.

Neuropathic Pain

  • Diabetic neuropathy.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Phantom limb pain.
  • Post-herpatic neuralgia.
  • Post-stroke pain.
  • Sciatica.
  • Shingles.
  • Trigeminal neuralgia.

Other types of pain

  • Angina.
  • Cancer pain.
  • Headache.
  • Migraine.
  • Post-operative pain.

Date of preparation: August 2017; MINT/MPAIN-17005q