Feeling pain is a defence mechanism. Your body’s tissues have nerve endings that are activated and send a message to the brain via the spinal cord whenever you suffer an injury. The brain interprets the message as a feeling of pain and determines its intensity, duration and location. The brain also processes feelings caused by pain. Pain is a natural reaction to tissue damage, but it is also an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience.
Your skin and internal organs are equipped with nerve endings that convey the feeling of pain. Some parts of your body have more pain receptors than others. The pain signal is distributed further by the brain to several areas, which is why pain can cause muscle tension, high blood pressure and sweating, for instance.
Acute or sudden and short-term pain is typically caused by an external stimulus, damage, injury, inflammation or organ dysfunction. In most cases, it is possible to alleviate acute pain medically, or the feeling of pain can go away on its own.
Chronic pain is a constant irritation in the pain system. Pain is chronic when it lasts for more than six months or it has surpassed the typical period of time in which the tissue damage is healed. Chronic pain is typically caused by problems in the lower back. Other common causes include osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Various sequelae of nerve injuries and accidents can also cause chronic pain. In addition, there are neurological conditions that can damage the peripheral nervous system in one way or another.
Chronic pain is divided into four subcategories: tissue damage pain, neurological pain, idiopathic pain or pain with an unknown cause and psychogenic pain.
Constant pain can deplete resources and impair the quality of life. The pain may force some patients to quit working, and in most cases, they have to rely on heavy doses of pain medication on a daily basis.
Constant pain can also cause
- phobic disorders,
- sleep disorders,
- lower pain threshold and
- affect social relationships.
Chronic pain can be alleviated with spinal cord stimulation therapy.