The Four Types of Pain:

  • Nociceptive
  • Inflammatory
  • Neuropathic
  • Alloplastic

It is common for people with ongoing pain to have more than one pain type.

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Dr Stephanie Davies
Dr. Stephanie Davies, Author

Nociceptive Pain (injury pain)

Nearly everyone has had this sort of pain. As children, we hurt ourselves constantly as we learn. The information of "hurt" happens when sensory cells, which are called nociceptors, fire off information that gets carried along by our nerves, called our peripheral nervous system. It then travels into our spinal cord and brain, called our central nervous system.

Injury nociceptive pains include jamming your finger in a car door, spraining your ankle or touching the hot plate on the stove. An interesting example is the pain of a vaccination as opposed to the pain from having a tattoo. Both use needles. But as most people want the tattoo, they are less troubled by the pain of a tattoo as opposed to a vaccine. So the experience of pain varies greatly, depending both on what, when, how and why you have pain.

Inflammatory Pain

Once there has been an injury with tissue damage, it is normal to have an inflammatory response. Initially this is usually a good thing as inflammation coordinates healing the tissue damage. Chemicals talk to each other to help tissue repair.

Examples are rheumatoid arthritis, bruises, broken bones, or pulled muscles are the painful area may have swelling, redness and later purple or yellowing of the skin.

The key is to do gentle non-sweaty stretches for your painful part and your whole body, pace up your activities, organise a paced daily walk, practice mindfulness, and empty boats, all of which are discussed in detail in Rewire Your Pain.

Neuropathic Pain

People with neuropathic pain often use words like burning, shooting, stabbing, prickling, electric shocks to describe their pain. Normal touch can trigger then pain, and so can hot and cold water which is called allodynia.

Common examples of neuropathic pain are shingles, sciatica, cervical or lumbar radiculopathy, trigeminal neuralgia, or diabetic neuropathy.

The key is to pace up your activities, do gentle non-sweaty stretches for your painful part and your whole body, organise a paced daily walk, reduce overactivity of your nervous system, all of which are discussed in detail in Rewire Your Pain.

Alloplastic Pain

A big message is that when you have pain and you also feel threatened or in danger the nervous system pays the pain signal a lot of attention, and immune-like cells in the nervous system are activated to store the pain information. When there is danger as well as pain input this is a recipe for chronic or ongoing pain. The implication of this is that feelings of stress, worry and being under threat need to be removed.

Some very clever researchers are showing that immune-like cells in the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves play a major role in all forms of pain. These immune-like cells are called microglia, astrocytes, T cells and natural killer cells and these contribute to glial mediated immuno-responsive pain, which we call "Alloplastic" pain.

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Imagine a life with less pain. How would that feel? What would you be doing and enjoying?

Rewiring your pain is possible with a daily set of choices. Start making those choices now.

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