Pain is a general term that describes uncomfortable sensations in the body. It usually signals an injury or illness and tends to be the body’s way of telling you something isn’t quite right. But do not fear, this is the purpose of pain! The idea is to make you aware that you might be injured so you will do something about it (or stop doing the aggravating factor). Pain stems from activation of the nervous system whereby nerve fibres in our body send pain signals to the brain (this happens VERY quickly). Pain can range from subtle to debilitating and can be in the form of a sharp stab or dull ache sensation.
When you do something that hurts your body your brain normally triggers a pain response. The perception of pain varies from person to person. One person might have a broken bone and not even realise it, while another might feel significant pain for the same injury. It’s the way our brain reacts to the pain signals and stimuli which determines a person’s pain perception and pain tolerance.
Types of Pain
The 5 common types of pain are;
*please note pain can fit into more than one category and that’s where it gets complicated*
Acute Pain- Short in duration (lasting anything from minutes to 3 months). Acute pain is mostly linked to soft tissue injury or temporary illness and typically subsides after the injury heals or the illness has gone (infection). Acute injury pain may evolve into chronic pain if the injury doesn’t heal correctly.
Chronic Pain- Long in duration (lasting for more than 3 months). Can be from a poorly healed acute injury or a health condition (arthritis or fibromyalgia).
Neuropathic Pain- Consists of damage to the nerves. Can be felt as shooting/stabbing/burning pain with symptoms of pins & needles. This pain tends to be associated with chronic pain.
Nociceptive Pain- Linked with damage to the body tissue. Can be described as sharp/achy/throbbing pain. It is usually caused by an external injury (hit elbow, stubbed toe, twisted ankle, scaped knee). Often felt in the joints, muscles, skin, tendons and bone and can fall into both the acute & chronic pain categories.
Radicular Pain- Spinal nerve damage through compression or inflammation. It radiates from the back & hips into the legs. People feel tingling/numbness/muscle weakness.
When to see a Sports Therapist
It’s always best, that with an acute injury, to not leave it too long as this could result in it turning into a chronic issue. This is both a harder and longer process when trying to fix the issue! Sports Therapists specialise in musculo-skeletal problems so any pain that fits into the acute, chronic, some neuropathic symptoms and nociceptive pain can be relieved with the help of a Sports Therapist!
!REMEMBER! Someone elses pain response maybe different to yours, and that's okay. It's what makes us all unique and special. Putting up with pain can be tiring, debilitating and something you just should NOT have to do. So if you think you need a Sports Therapist's help then please do get in touch with me using the contact information below. I'd be more than happy to help anyone who may need it!
Thank you for taking the time to read this weeks blog, take care.
BSc Hons Sports Therapy MSST
MSc Strength and Conditioning