Pain is more than just a feeling of discomfort. It can affect the way you feel overall. It may also lead to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. The amount of pain you experience can tell your doctor a lot about your overall health.
Acute pain happens suddenly, usually in a matter of days or weeks. It tends to resolve within a few weeks. Chronic pain is ongoing. Some guidelines consider pain to be chronic when it lasts beyond three months. Others say pain is chronic when it lasts longer than six months.
Pain-relief methods range from at-home treatments and prescriptions to over-the-counter (OTC) medications and invasive procedures like surgery. Pain relief doesn’t usually happen overnight, but it can. Each person’s pain experience is unique to them.
There are two main types of pain: nociceptive and neuropathic.
Nociceptive pain is a nervous system response that helps protect your body. It makes you pull your hand back from a hot stove so you don’t get burned. Pain from a sprained ankle forces you to rest and give the injury time to heal.
Neuropathic pain is different, because it has no known benefits. It may be a result of misread signals between your nerves and brain or spinal cord. Or it could be because of nerve damage. Your brain interprets faulty signals from the nerves as pain.
Examples of neuropathic pain type include:
To get effective pain relief, you first need to find the source of the pain.
Make an appointment with your doctor if your pain:
- hasn’t gone away after two to three weeks
- is causing you stress, anxiety, or depression
- prevents you from relaxing or sleeping
- stops you from exercising or participating in your normal activities
- hasn’t improved with any of the treatments you’ve tried
Living with chronic pain can be emotionally and physically challenging. Many types of treatments can help you find relief.