Types of Pain

Pain is a response or signal sent out to your brain to indicate a problem in the body. It tells us that something is not right and we may need some form of medical treatment. Pain can be mild to severe, occasional, pulsating (throbbing) or constant. It can also be described as an aching, burning, prickling or sharp stabbing. Pain can be of two types: 

  • Chronic pain is long lasting and usually does not reduce with most treatments. It is associated with conditions such as osteoarthritis or fibromyalgia.
  • Acute pain occurs suddenly but is temporary. It is associated with anxiety and emotional stress, and resolves as the injury heals.

Acute and chronic pain can be classified as:

  • Nociceptive pain is caused due to an injury to the body tissue; this includes damage to muscle or bone such as bruises, cuts, fractures, burns, cancer and surgery. Pain reduces once the injury heals. 
  • Neuropathic pain is caused due to dysfunction or damage to the nerves, spinal cord or brain. It is characterized by a burning, tingling or stabbing sensation. Pain can last for a long period of time, even after the injury has healed. 
  • Psychogenic pain is caused by psychological factors. Pain usually occurs due to tissue or nerve damage, but increases and is prolonged because of stress, fear, anxiety or depression.

Recognizing the type of pain plays an important part in providing the most effective treatment. 



HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL ASHPP PENN SIS AMA NASS aaPM&R ISASS - The International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery