Pain is a sensation that warns of potential injury and alerts the person to avoid or treat it. For example, if you touch a hot object, you will feel pain and immediately remove your hand from that object, protecting your hand from further damage. As much as pain can burden and torment, ultimately it is an essential part of our bodies’ mechanisms of self-preservation.
Pain can be mild or severe, constant or intermittent, sharp or dull. Sometimes it can even be hard to describe the uncomfortable sensation in words. Nevertheless, clinicians always ask their patients to describe their pain. Why? Because its characteristics can help us better determine the mechanism behind a patient’s pain.
In the clinic, the patient’s subjective experience of pain can be crucial to arriving at the correct diagnosis and treatment. For this reason, understanding the different kinds of pain and their underlying biology is an essential building block of foundational clinical knowledge.
There is no standard system of classifying pain. In this discussion, we will classify the five main types of pain as nociceptive, breakthrough, inflammatory, neuropathic, and functional.
After listening to this AudioBrick, you should be able to:
- Define the different classifications of pain and why they occur.
- Describe the mechanisms of neuropathic pain.
- Define and describe transient and chronic paresthesia.
- Define and describe allodynia and hyperalgesia.
You can also check out the original brick on Pain Mechanisms from our Neurology and Special Senses collection, which is available for free.
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