Is all pain the same?
No, not all pain is the same. There are two major types of pain: acute and chronic.
Acute pain is usually due to an injury, surgery or cancer and serves to protect us. When tissue is damaged, free nerve endings in your skin send signals to your brain via your spinal cord. Your brain then sends signals to your body to respond to pain, such as removing your burning finger from a hot stove.
Chronic pain is pain that persists over three months, beyond when an injury should have healed. Chronic pain can be intermittent (occurs in a pattern) or persistent (lasting more than 12 hours daily) and can be considered a disease itself.
It is important to understand that chronic pain is not just a continuation of acute pain. Unlike acute pain, which alerts your body to injury, chronic pain serves no purpose. Although chronic pain can result from acute pain if left untreated, such as after surgery, the most common causes are osteoarthritis and low back pain.
Another type of chronic pain is called neuropathic pain which results from disease or injury to the nervous system.
Many common diseases can result in changes in our nervous systems that cause pain. Shingles, diabetes, and stroke are common examples.