7 Kinds Of Chronic Pain Symptoms Explained (Diagnosing Yourself)
Quick Summary of Chronic Pain Symptoms (7 Categories Explained):
- General Somatic Pain
- Visceral Pain
- Bone Pain
- Muscle Spasm
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Circulatory Problems
- Headache Pain
Do you think that you have chronic pain symptoms? Maybe you know that something is wrong but you’re not sure what’s happening. You’re not sure if it’s chronic or not.
Here are the 7 kinds of symptoms explained. Doing some self-diagnosis will help you know what to do next.
First, an introduction about chronic pain.
Part 1 describes the nature and causes of chronic pain. Part 2 explains the 7 types of chronic pain.
Chronic Pain Symptoms (7 Categories Explained) – Part 1
What Is Chronic Pain?
You’ve probably heard the term acute pain as well as the term chronic pain. They’re different.
Acute pain refers to the sudden or initial onset of pain. It’s the physical hurting that gets your attention in the first place. After you experience acute pain, you take some kind of common-sense action to alleviate it. Icing a burn. Elevating a sore limb. Having a stiff neck massaged.
Chronic pain, on the other hand, refers to a specific pain that lasts 6 months or longer. In most cases, chronic pain is a result of an injury or medical condition. Every once in awhile chronic pain comes out of nowhere (phantom pain). But usually, it’s directly linked to something else that happened to you.
You don’t need us to tell you that chronic pain symptoms are downright awful. It affects your entire life. Your relationships, physical activity, sleep, work, everything. Your quality of life goes way down.
But if you can double down and really figure out the nature of your chronic pain, you’ll be much better off. You’ll have a lot more hope of finding relief and getting the right treatment.
What Are The Sources Of Chronic Pain?
These are the most common sources:
- joint pains (arthritis)
- sinus pain
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- insomnia (sleep disorders)
Why Does It Get Worse?
The buildup from acute pain to chronic pain is sometimes referred to as the wind-up phenomenon.
A lot of chronic pain folks got to that point because they didn’t treat their acute pain properly or hastily. Not getting treatment (or not getting proper treatment) at the onset of pain does a few things physically.
Your nerve fibers actually get used to sending those specific pain signals after enough time passes. They get trained, in essence, to do a better and better job at sending pain signals. Which means more pain for you.
Also, the longer you have the pain, the stronger the signals need to be in order to get your attention. This toleration effect is one of the reasons acute pain turns into chronic pain eventually. So even though your injury or condition isn’t necessarily getting worse, the pain feels like it is.
Sounds awful, right? That’s because it is awful.
Chronic Pain Symptoms (7 Categories Explained) – Part 1
1. General Somatic Pain
This is pain from the outer body. The skin. The muscles. This is the most common type of chronic pain. If you fall and bump your head, or get hit in the back by an object, or pull a muscle. These kinds of things. In most cases, symptoms associated with general somatic pain go away after 1-3 days.
However, sometimes it doesn’t go away. Sometimes the pain continues for longer than it normally would. It depends on the type of injury sustained or what previous medical conditions you had before the incident. But things like chronic back pain and fibromyalgia can result from somatic pain.
2. Visceral Pain
This is pain from the internal organs. As you would imagine, the chronic pain symptoms in the visceral pain category represent a more serious issue.
These symptoms are a lot harder to diagnose. This is because the nerves inside your body are not as sensitive or sophisticated as the ones on the outside. The nerve connections aren’t quite as strong.
This fact can result in seemingly strange pain associations. For example, sometimes you can experience pain in your shoulder because of a gallbladder issue. Things like that.
But visceral pain is sometimes easily pinpointed. For example, things like constipation and indigestion are recognized without too much trouble. A lot of times, visceral pain is treated without complications via nonprescription meds.
However, visceral pain can develop into things like chronic active hepatitis (liver inflammation) or chronic pancreatitis (pancreas inflammation). These are the types of chronic pain that are difficult to treat that we mentioned at the start of this section.
Appendicitis and gallstones, though categorized as visceral pain, are usually treated with no problems.
3. Bone Pain
Temporary bone pain is usually the result of a fracture or a bruise. Things like that. But chronic bone pain is usually the result of things like:
- bone cancer
- osteoporosis (bone softening)
- osteomyelitis (bone infection)
- arthritis (joint inflammation)
4. Muscle Spasm
Muscle spasms, muscle cramps, charley horse – however you refer to them – can be really painful. In the instances where muscle spasms reach the chronic stage, the pain is usually located in the back.
5. Peripheral Neuropathy
Also referred to as nerve pain. This is pain that originates from your nerves and makes its way to your spinal cord. You usually feel this kind of pain in your extremities, buttocks, face, or head.
Let’s clarify something. Yes, all pain starts in the nerves. However, not all pain impulses arise from nerve endings but rather from the nerve along its length.
For example, you may have heard of sciatica. The pain associated with sciatica happens because the sciatic nerve (which connects the leg to the spine) has been pinched. Even though you feel the pain in your leg, the pinching actually occurs in the spine.
Ruptured spinal discs are also categorized as peripheral neuropathy. This is a very common source of chronic pain symptoms. Other causes of peripheral neuropathy can include:
- pinched nerves
- infections (e.g. shingles)
- loss of a limb (deafferentation)
If the event or condition irritates the nerves, it’s most likely going to be in this chronic pain category. People often describe this kind of pain as pins and needles, a stabbing sensation, or an electric shock feeling.
6. Circulatory Problems
Chronic pain symptoms are often the result of poor circulation. It’s a lot more common than you might think. Things that can cause this are:
- tobacco use
- autoimmune disease (e.g. lupus, rheumatoid arthritis)
This kind of pain occurs when arteries or blocked by plaques. Plaques is basically a fatty deposit. This is what’s happening to someone who has poor circulation; plaque is causing a partial blockage in your arteries.
When a body area is receiving inadequate circulation, it’s low on nourishment and oxygen. This causes damage which results in pain.
Bad circulation can also be caused by something called RSD, which stands for reflex sympathetic dystrophy. It has a secondary name as well, which is CRPS. That stands for a couple regional pain syndrome.
This condition involves more than just poor circulation. A second feature is a problem with nerve transmission. With RSD, blood vessels get abnormally narrow. This makes it difficult for oxygen to travel where it needs to go.
7. Headache Pain?
Lastly, we come to headaches. Everyone knows what a headache feels like. They come in all shapes and sizes and can be caused by all sorts of things.
Headaches are usually categorized into three types:
Within those three categories, some of the more serious causes of headaches can include:
- trigeminal neuralgia
- giant cell arteritis
- brain tumors
One of the more common types of headaches, migraines, has an identifying feature. You can clearly feel it on one particular side of your head. Migraines can cause:
- nausea (vomiting)
- photophobia (light hurts your eyes)
- phonophobia (sounds hurt your ears)
- scintillating scotomata (you see vibrating lines around the edges of objects)
Many people who get migraines regularly experience some of these effects before the migraine actually happens. So they know when it’s about to take place. Chronic migraine pain can be severe, mild, or anywhere in between.
Cluster headaches are different from migraines in that they almost always come in groups. When they attack, they last up anywhere between many days to many weeks. Compared to migraines, clusters are more painful.
Chronic Pain Symptoms (7 Categories Explained) – Conclusion
If you think you have chronic pain symptoms, use the information in this article to pinpoint the nature of your pain. Once you have a good idea, contact a specialist to confirm. They’ll be able to help you know how to properly treat your particular case.
Contact us with any other questions you have about chronic pain. We’d love to talk with you and help you in any way that we can. It doesn’t matter what type of pain you’re suffering from. We can provide you with relief.
Don’t live with chronic pain anymore. Let us help you.