Do you ever feel confused when someone asks you what type of pain you feel? Do you feel worried or puzzled because you don’t understand what your body is trying to tell you?
We’ve all been there, trying to describe what is happening to us – whether the pain is constant or sudden, dull or stabbing, radiating or sharp, or simply unbearable! More than 100 million Americans deal with chronic pain, according to the Institute of Medicine. Millions of others deal with short-term recurring aches.
The fact is that pain is our body’s tool to let us know something is wrong. We can’t and should not ignore it. The good news is that once you find the cause of your pain, it will be that much easier to eliminate it.
It’s important to share with your doctor all the relevant information regarding your pain, but in order to do that, you need to know how to distinguish one type from another. So, let’s jump right in.
1. Back Pain
About 80 percent of adults fight back pain at some point in their lives, reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This type of pain can range in intensity from a dull, persistent ache to an abrupt, piercing feeling that leaves the person weakened. In most cases, the cause of acute back pain is a mechanical disruption in the components of the back (the spine, muscles, intervertebral discs, and nerves).
2. Neck and Shoulder Pain
This kind of pain is often dull and radiating. The most common and easy-to-treat cause of neck and shoulder pain is muscle strain. Other possible causes include: trauma (like from a car accident), abnormalities in the bone or joints, degenerative diseases or tumors, or simply poor posture. If you experience this last type of pain, you should make sure your sitting habits are correct before you search for a more serious cause.
3. Muscle Pain
The most common cause of this kind of pain is overuse of muscles. It’s described often as a burning, stinging or tingling sensation. It can be remedied by using very effective Platelet Rich Plasma Prolotherapy, anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants to loosen spasms. Other therapies include hot showers, delicate massages or stretching.
4. Abdominal Pain
Whenever we feel a stomachache, indigestion comes to mind first. The truth is, it’s the most common cause of this type of pain and it passes fairly fast. Other causes of abdominal pain include IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), food poisoning, and stomach viruses. We should always remember that in some cases, the origin of pain may be much more severe; it could be appendicitis, aortic aneurysm, pancreatitis, kidney stones, or gallstones. So, if the pain persists or is extremely sharp, get in touch with your physician.
5. Headache Pain
There are several kinds of headaches, with different causes. The International Headache Society defines 4 different categories of headache:
- Migraine and cluster
- Secondary headaches from a primary condition, such as fever, infectious disease, sinus disorder, or in rare cases, a tumor or more severe disease
- Cranial neuralgias, facial pain, and other headaches
There are effective treatments for practically every type of headache. The challenges lie in determining the cause of headache and in creating an appropriate treatment plan that will diminish both its frequency and intensity. Those treatments may include medication, injections, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, biofeedback, massage, and acupuncture.
6. Ischemic Pain
The cause of ischemic pain is collapsed blood vessels that transfer blood throughout the body. Sometimes this condition may cause a heart attack, but most commonly, ischemic pain comes from peripheral vascular disease (PVD), which causes aching in the legs due to the lack of blood flow. Treatments include improving your diet, adding exercise, using medications that expand blood flow, or having an angioplasty or vascular surgical procedure.
7. Pelvic Pain
Pelvic pain is pain felt in the area of lower abdomen, pelvis, or perineum. It has many probable causes and affects up to 20% of the population in the United States. Pelvic pain is considered chronic when it persists for over 6 months. There are many different causes of pelvic pain, including (but not limited to): pregnancy and childbirth, pelvic joint problems, muscle weakness, compression of one or more nerves, scar tissue after abdominal or pelvic surgery, or a shift in the position of the pelvic organs. Treatments may include medication, hypnosis, heat therapy, or physical therapy. In serious conditions involving uterine pain, doctors may recommend a hysterectomy.
8. Cancer Pain
When pain is cancer-related, its source may be the cancer itself, or it may stem from cancer treatments, like surgery or chemotherapy, says the American Cancer Society. Generally, though, the distress comes from the tumor pressing on bones, nerves, or organs. Doctors typically treat cancer pain with medications called analgesics. Other treatments can consist of radiation to shrink the tumor, surgery to eliminate the tumor, nerve blocks, or neurosurgery, which involves cutting nerves to relieve pain.
A chronic condition that is frequently difficult to diagnose, fibromyalgia affects nearly 5 million people in the United States; 80% to 90% are women. Fibromyalgia is often diagnosed in adults between the ages of 30 and 50, but the symptoms—such as prevalent chronic pain and fatigue—can show up earlier. Even though there is no definitive cure at present, there are treatments that can help, for instance: medication, injections, biofeedback, massage, cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, and acupuncture.
“Arthritis” is a term used to describe inflammation of the joints. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and usually is caused by the deterioration of a joint. Typically, the weight-bearing joints are affected, with the knee and the hip being the most common. It’s often caused by overuse of the joint. Over time, arthritic joints become sore and stiff. You’re more likely to develop osteoarthritis if you are older, obese, have a relative with osteoarthritis, or overuse a joint, according to the Arthritis Foundation. And, even though there’s no remedy for osteoarthritis, anti-inflammatory medications may relieve pain, and physical therapy can help improve strength and mobility. Some excellent, alternative options are Prolotherapy, Stem Cell Therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma Prolotherapy.
As you can see, there are many causes and types of pain. The classification of pain we’ve presented is based mostly on its origin. You should remember that overuse of pain relief medications may cause even bigger damage than the pain itself, so it’s important to use alternative therapy methods.
Unrelieved pain can become a syndrome in its own right and cause a downward spiral in a person’s health and outlook. Managing pain properly facilitates recovery, prevents additional health complications, and improves an individual’s quality of life.
At our Miami pain clinic, prior to beginning treatment, the pain is thoroughly evaluated so as to gather objective measures resulting from an individual’s subjective experience. Objective measurements allow us a better understanding of the unique attributes of the pain which the patient is experiencing.
When looking for pain management in Miami and pain management in Coral Gables, there are several options – both surgical and non-surgical. As a pain management doctor in Miami who believes that surgery should be the last resort, Dr. Mahl utilizes a range of non-surgical treatment options. Depending on your type of pain and specific condition, the following forms of pain management treatment are provided on site at our Pain Management Clinic in Coral Gables and Miami Pain Clinic:
- Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
- Stem Cell Therapy
Learn more about GenLife Miami Pain Clinic here.