Categorized by Duration
This is the type of pain that usually accompanies scenarios such as surgery, injury, tissue damage, and inflammation. By definition, acute pain lasts fewer than 3 months, but may persist longer even as healing occurs. Although pain is never thought of as a good thing, acute pain plays a vital role in providing a warning that something is wrong and should be examined further. Acute pain is typically sudden, but self-limiting and typically resolves over days to weeks. Still, acute pain is important to manage, as inadequately controlled acute pain can be a factor in the development of chronic pain.
In contrast, chronic pain is defined as any pain lasting longer than 3 months. Chronic pain may arise in many ways. It can be the result of an initial mishap – an injury or a serious infection – or an ongoing result of a medical condition, like musculoskeletal pain, arthritis or cancer. Chronic pain may even present with no clear identifiable cause or may have multiple coexisting underlying conditions. Additionally, chronic pain is also common, with it affecting up to 20% of adults over all and increases by age group.
Categorized by Type
Nociceptive pain is the most common type of pain in which it can be initiated by thermal (heat/cold), chemical, or mechanical (physical) injury that sends pain signals from your nerves, through the spinal cord, and to your brain.
Neuropathic pain is a result of injury or damage to the nerve itself. Usually presented as distinct numbness, tingling or a burning sensation. Prolonged neuropathic pain can result in abnormal nerve activity, and increased feelings of pain. Neuropathic pain is typically chronic pain and the result of some underlying condition (e.g., diabetes, shingles) as well as a long-lasting result of an acute injury (e.g., sciatica).
Inflammatory pain refers to pain due to inflammation. The inflammatory response may be triggered by an acute injury, tissue damage, infection, or some underlying health condition. It is important to note that inflammation plays an integral role in the body’s natural response to injury and that some degree of inflammation is normal for proper healing. However, when the inflammatory response is too extreme or sustained for too long, chronic pain conditions may arise (e.g., tendonitis, arthritis).
Musculoskeletal pain is pain that affects bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves – all pieces of your musculoskeletal structure. Musculoskeletal pain can vary greatly in what a patient may be experiencing but is most commonly caused by an injury due to falls, lifting, sprains, dislocations, car accidents or poor posture. The most common forms of musculoskeletal pain include lower back pain, neck pain, /shoulder pain, hip pain, and tension headache.
Categorized by Intensity
Pain intensity is most commonly measured with pain scales. The most commonly used pain scales are the Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS).
The Visual Analog Scale (VAS) can be presented in multiple ways, but they all aim to quantify pain by using a combination of descriptions and pictures.
The Numeric Ratings Scale (NRS) is a numeric version of the visual analog scale that ranges from 0, or 'no pain', to 10, or 'worst pain imaginable'.