Types of Pain

Pain Severity: Descriptions of the types of pain include:

Milder Pain Types: Mild types of pain are described as:

Nerve Type Pain: The type of pain from a nerve condition is often somewhat different:

Sensations vs Pain: Pain-like sensations (usually from nerve conditions) include:

Pain Presentations and Duration: Types of pain by its presentation and characteristics include:

Different Tissue Types: Types of pain by the affected tissue include:

Major Body Regions: Pain in large regions of the body includes:

Upper Body Pain: Types of upper body pain include:

Head Region Pain: Types of pain in the head and nearby regions include:

Neck Region Pain: Types of pain in or near the neck include:

Shoulder Region Pain: Pain in the shoulder and upper body pain includes:

Internal Throat Pain: Pain that is inside the throat includes:

Facial Region Pain: Types of pain in the face:

Back Pain: Pain of the back or spine includes:

Internal Organ Pain: Various pain may affect all manner of different organs and systems:

Urinary System Pain: Pain in the urinary tract includes:

Gynecological Pain: Pain in the female reproductive system includes:

Lower Body Pain: The various types of pain in the lower parts of the body include:

Anorectal Region Pain: Pain in the lower anorectal region includes:

Genital Area Pain: Lower pain in the genital region includes:

Female Genital Pain: Pain in the female genitals includes:

Male Genital Pain: pain of the male genitals includes:

Leg Pain: Types of pain in the legs:

Foot Pain: Various subtypes of foot pain include:

Arm Pain: Types of pain in the arms:

Hand Pain Types: Various subtypes of hand pain include:

Finger Pain: Types of finger pain include:

  • Thumb pain
  • Fingertip pain
  • Fingernail pain
  • Index finger pain (forefinger pain)
  • Middle finger pain
  • Ring finger pain
  • Little finger pain (pinky pain)

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Back to: « Pain

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A Pain Primer: What Do We Know About Pain?

What is pain? The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines it as: An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage. The IASP definition means that pain is a subjective experience; one that cannot be objectively measured and depends on the person’s self-report. As will be discussed later, there can be a wide variability in how a person experiences pain to a given stimulus or injury.

Pain can be classified as acute or chronic, and the two kinds differ greatly.

  • Acute pain, for the most part, results from disease, inflammation, or injury to tissues. This type of pain generally comes on suddenly, for example, after trauma or surgery, and may be accompanied by anxiety or emotional distress. The cause of acute pain can usually be diagnosed and treated. The pain is self-limiting, which means it is confined to a given period of time and severity. It can become chronic.
  • Chronic pain is now believed to be a chronic disease condition in the same manner as diabetes and asthma. Chronic pain can be made worse by environmental and psychological factors. By its nature, chronic pain persists over a long period of time and is resistant to many medical treatments. It can—and often does—cause severe problems. People with chronic pain often suffer from more than one painful condition. It is thought that there are common mechanisms that put some people at higher risk to develop multiple pain disorders. It is not known whether these disorders share a common cause.

We may experience pain as a prick, tingle, sting, burn, or ache. Normally, acute pain is a protective response to tissue damage resulting from injury, disease, overuse, or environmental stressors. To sense pain, specialized receptors (called nociceptors) which are found throughout the body, trigger a series of events in response to a noxious (painful) stimulus. The events begin with conversion of the stimulus to an electrical impulse that travels through nerves from the site of injury or disease process to the spinal cord. These signals are transmitted to a specialized part of the spinal cord called the dorsal horn (see section on Spine Basics in the Appendix), where they can be dampened or amplified before being relayed to the brain.

Source: NINDS (NIH)1

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Acute Pain and Chronic Pain

There are two kinds of pain. Acute pain begins suddenly, lasts for a short time, and goes away as your body heals. You might feel acute pain after surgery or if you have a broken bone, infected tooth, or kidney stone.

Pain that lasts for several months or years is called chronic (or persistent) pain. This pain often affects older people. Examples include rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and sciatica. In some cases, chronic pain follows after acute pain from an injury or other health issue has gone away, like postherpetic neuralgia after shingles.

Source: NIA (NIH)2

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The Two Faces of Pain: Acute and Chronic

What is pain? The International Association for the Study of Pain describes it as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience.” There are two basic types of pain, and they are very different.

Acute pain, for the most part, has a physical cause, such as disease, inflammation, or injury to tissues. This type of pain generally comes on quickly, for example, after trauma or surgery, and may be accompanied by anxiety or emotional distress. Acute pain resolves when its cause is treated and healing occurs.

Chronic pain lasts longer than acute, generally over three months. It may start with an injury or other cause, but it persists even after healing has occurred. Chronic pain is widely believed to be a disease, with known changes in the nerves that get worse with time. Due to its persistence, it can cause major problems in every aspect of a person’s life, and is frequently resistant to many medical treatments. A person may even have two or more coexisting chronic pain conditions. Among the most common pain challenges for Americans are headaches, low back pain, arthritis pain, cancer pain, and nerve and muscle pain.

Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH)3

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20 painful health conditions

Here are 20 health conditions known to cause pain so disabling that they can prevent you performing daily tasks.

They're not ranked in any particular order.

Source: NHS Choices UK4

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Where's your pain?

Pain can strike anywhere in the body. Wherever you feel pain, whether it's in your hip, back, foot or head, use this guide to find the information you need.

Head and neck

Chest, shoulders and back

Arms and hands

Abdomen, pelvis and genitals

Legs and feet

Source: NHS Choices UK5

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Pelvic inflammatory disease: Long-term pelvic pain

Some women with PID develop long-term (chronic) pain around their pelvis and lower abdomen, which can be difficult to live with and can lead to further problems such as depression and difficulty sleeping (insomnia).

If you develop chronic pelvic pain, you may be given painkillers to help control your symptoms. Tests to determine the cause may be carried out. If painkillers don't control your pain, you may be referred to a pain management team or a specialist pelvic pain clinic.

Source: NHS Choices UK6

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Post-herpetic neuralgia: In post-herpetic neuralgia, the virus causes inflammation of the nerves under the skin of the affected area. Neuralgia is a medical term for pain resulting from nerve inflammation or damage.

Source: NHS Choices UK7

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Pudendal neuralgia: Pudendal neuralgia is a type of long-term (chronic) pelvic pain that originates from damage or irritation of the pudendal nerve.

Source: NHS Choices UK8

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Types may include:9 Types of Pain:

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Types of Pain may include:10 Types of Pain:

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Types of this condition include:11 Types of Pain Disorders:

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Types of this condition include:12

Types of Pain:

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Types of this condition may include:13 Types of pain:

Categories of Pain

Categories for Pain may include:14 Category of Pain:

  • Constitutional symptom

Categories of Pain

Categories for Pain may include:15

Category of Pain:

  • Symptom

Categories of Pain

Categories for Pain may include:16 Category of Pain Disorders:

Categories of Pain

Categories for Pain may include:17 Category of Pain:

Categories of Pain

Categories for this condition may include:18 Category of pain:

  • sensation perception

Categories of Pain

Categories of this condition include:19 Category of Pain Disorders:

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  1. Source: NINDS (NIH): ninds.nih.gov/ disorders/ chronic_pain/ detail_chronic_pain.htm
  2. Source: NIA (NIH): nia.nih.gov/ health/ pain-you-can-get-help
  3. Source: MedLinePlus Magazine (NIH): medlineplus.gov/ magazine/ issues/ spring11/ articles/ spring11pg4.html
  4. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ Livewell/ Pain/ Pages/ 20-painful-conditions.aspx
  5. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ Livewell/ Pain/ Pages/ where-is-your-pain.aspx
  6. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ pelvic-inflammatory-disease-pid/ complications/ 
  7. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ post-herpetic-neuralgia/ 
  8. Source: NHS Choices UK: nhs.uk/ conditions/ pudendal-neuralgia/ 
  9. Source: Human Phenotype Ontology
  10. Source: MeSH (U.S. National Library of Medicine)
  11. Source: Monarch Initiative
  12. Source: NCI Thesaurus
  13. Source: SYMP Ontology
  14. Source: Human Phenotype Ontology
  15. Source: NCI Thesaurus
  16. Source: Monarch Initiative
  17. Source: MeSH (U.S. National Library of Medicine)
  18. Source: SYMP Ontology
  19. Source: Disease Ontology

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Note: This site is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. See your doctor or other qualified medical professional for all your medical needs.