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Pain is a general term that describes uncomfortable sensations in the body. It stems from activation of the nervous system. Pain can range from annoying to debilitating. It may feel like a sharp stab or dull ache. It may also be described as throbbing, pinching, stinging, burning, or sore. Pain may be consistent, it may start and stop frequently, or it may occur only under some conditions.
It may be acute, developing suddenly and lasting for a short period of time. Or it may be chronic, with ongoing sensations that last or return repeatedly over several months or years. Pain may be localized, affecting a specific part of your body. Or it may be generalized, such as the overall body aches associated with the flu. People respond to pain differently. Some people have a high tolerance for pain, while others have a low tolerance.
Pain is highly subjective. Pain lets us know when something is wrong and gives us hints about the cause. Some pain is easy to diagnose and can be managed at home. Other types of pain are s of serious health conditions that require medical attention to treat.
In some cases, pain is clearly caused by a specific injury or medical condition. In other cases, the cause of the pain may be less obvious or unknown. Many illnesses or disorders, such as the fluarthritisendometriosisand fibromyalgiacan cause pain.
Depending on the underlying cause, you may develop other symptoms as well. For example, these may include fatigue, swelling, nausea, vomiting, or mood changes. There are several different types of pain. Acute pain develops over a short period of time. It tends to occur suddenly, often as a result of a known injury, illness, or medical procedure. Acute pain tends to be sharp, rather than dull. It usually goes away within a few days, weeks, or months, after the cause has been treated or resolved. Chronic pain lasts, or comes and goes, over multiple months or years.
It may result from a variety of health conditions, such as arthritisfibromyalgia, chronic migraineor cancer. Some people also experience chronic pain following an injury, even after the initial injury has healed. In some cases, the cause of chronic pain is hard to identify. This is known as functional pain. More than 7 percent had chronic pain that frequently limited their activities at work or in wider life. Nociceptive pain is caused by tissue damage. For example, it may result from injuries such as cuts, burns, bruises, or fractures. It may also result from certain health conditions that cause tissue inflammation and damage, such as arthritis, osteoporosisor inflammatory bowel disease IBD.
Nociceptive pain may be acute or chronic, depending on the underlying cause. It may feel achy, throbbing, or sharp. Neuropathic pain from nerve damage, which may be caused by a variety of injuries and illnesses. For example, you may experience neuropathic pain if one of the discs in your spine slips out of place and puts pressure on a nerve.
You may also develop neuropathic pain as a result of certain illnesses, such as shinglesdiabetesmultiple sclerosisor cancer. It tends to be chronic, but acute neuropathic pain may also occur. Neuropathic pain may feel like a stabbing, shooting, burning, or prickling sensation. It tends to be chronic, although acute functional pain may also develop.
Examples of functional pain syndromes include:. If you seek medical attention for your pain, your healthcare professional will first do a physical examination and ask you some questions. Be prepared to describe the pain specifically, including when it started, when it is most intense, and whether it is mild, moderate, or severe.
Depending on your symptoms and medical history, your doctor may order one or more of the following tests to check for potential causes of your pain:. These syndromes are diagnosed based on symptoms, after other potential causes are ruled out. Acute pain will generally go away once the cause has been treated or resolved. If your pain is caused by an infection, it might resolve on its own or you might need medication or other treatments. If you have a chronic health condition such as arthritis, cancer, or chronic migraine, your doctor might prescribe medication, surgery, or other therapies to help treat it.
Your healthcare professional might also recommend treatments to ease the pain itself.
For example, they may recommend or prescribe:. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes or home remedies to help manage pain. For example, they might encourage you to:. Pain is a that something is wrong in your body. It may be caused by a wide variety of injuries, diseases, and functional pain syndromes. In general, the most effective way to treat pain is to address the underlying cause if it can be identified. In some cases, the injury or illness causing the pain may heal or resolve on its own. In other cases, you may need medication, surgery, or other therapies to treat the cause.
Sometimes, your provider may not be able to identify the cause. If you think your pain is caused by a serious injury or illness that requires medical attention to treat, contact your doctor or emergency medical services. Is there a link between low testosterone levels and headaches in men and women? A toothache is pain you feel in or around your teeth. Learn about the symptoms, causes, and treatment. Abdominal pain is pain that occurs between the chest and pelvic regions. Abdominal pain can be crampy, achy, dull, intermittent, or sharp.
Learn more…. It can be a way to make peace with your pain. Heated massagers are available in a variety of prices, sizes, and types. Use this list to narrow down what features you want. Here are 7 possible causes of pain under your fingernail nail when pressed, how you can treat these causes at home, and when to seek medical treatment. Weighted heating p may provide relief from pain, muscle stiffness, and chronic pain.
We explore which weighted heating p may be best for your…. Experts say chronic pain affects people's social lives as well as their ability to work. Health Conditions Discover Plan Connect. Medically reviewed by Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph. What causes pain? Types of pain. When to seek help.
How is pain diagnosed? How is pain treated? The takeaway. Read this next. Medically reviewed by University of Illinois. Medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, Ph.Need help with your pain
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