Given the complex nature of pain, determining the most suitable approach for its treatment depends on several factors unique to each individual. Your healthcare provider will carefully assess your overall health and may recommend a combination of therapies, medications, or even ketamine treatment to effectively manage your pain. However, before delving into treatment options, it is crucial to familiarize yourself with key terms and definitions associated with pain to ensure a better understanding of your condition and the available avenues for relief.
Definitions of Chronic Pain Terms
If you’re suffering from pain, chronic or otherwise, it’s a good idea to educate yourself before talking to your healthcare provider. Key terms and definitions to be aware of include:
- Acute pain is a deep pain that happens suddenly and is triggered by something known and typically doesn’t last more than three months. Once the reason for the pain goes away, the pain fades, too.
- Allodynia is when you feel pain from something that usually doesn’t provoke pain, like a light touch or brushing your teeth.
- Central Sensitization is a nervous system condition associated with the growth and upkeep of chronic pain. As a result of a persistent, regulated state of reactivity in your nervous system, the threshold for the cause of pain is lowered.
- Chronic pain is any kind of pain that is persistent and goes on for longer than three months, even after an initial injury or illness that triggered it has healed or subsided. In this case, pain signals stay active in your nervous system for a long time – weeks, months, or even years. It can even happen when there’s no obvious cause of past injury or apparent bodily harm.
- Chronic widespread pain affects all four bodily quadrants (the upper and lower torso, neck, and back).
- Comorbidity refers to the instance of mental and physical ailments happening to the same patient, no matter the order they occurred or any common pathway tying them together. If you have a mental disorder, there’s a greater risk for getting a chronic condition or the other way around.
- Dystonia is a movement illness where your muscles contract unwillingly, triggering repetitive or twisting motions. The condition can harm one region of your body, two or more adjacent parts, or all parts of the body.
- Fear-Avoidance is when you follow a conscious process to avoid certain activities you deem as causing pain. In some cases, this may be called “pain catastrophizing,” where you engage in negative pain appraisal or consider the pain to be worse than reality.
- Hyperalgesia is increased pain from something that regularly causes pain. For instance, elbow surgery may cause the discomfort to spread out over time instead of improving.
- Inflammatory pain is related to arthritis, known for pain, puffiness, tenderness, and warmth in your joints. The villain is inflammatory chemicals that go after joint tissue, leading to swelling, more joint fluid, bone and cartilage damage, and muscle loss.
- Myofascial pain is inflammation and pain affecting tissue that covers the muscles, sometimes in one or more muscle groups. In some instances, the area where you experience pain could be different from where it exists (“referred” pain).
- Musculoskeletal pain is in your bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves, which can be either acute or chronic. It can happen in more than one place.
- Neuropathic pain happens when there’s harm or dysfunction in your nervous system. Nerve function may vary at the location of the dysfunction or nerve damage, plus areas in your central nervous system.
- Neuropathy is any disorder affecting the nervous system (or network of nerves connecting the central nervous system to the remainder of your body). In this case, nerve cells get damaged or demolished, distorting the way they talk to each other and your brain.
- Nociceptive pain is also called somatic pain, a common pain triggered by different injuries like a broken bone, paper cut, or something else.
- Orofacial pain is a recurrent kind of pain you may sense in your face or oral cavity, possibly triggered by diseases or illnesses in the area, nervous system dysfunction, or due to referred pain from something else.
- Visceral pain is pain within the body’s internal organs, primarily the abdomen or pelvis. Visceral pain triggers your autonomic nervous system, which supports internal organs.