It is one of the two main types of physical pain.
The other is called neuropathic pain . Nociceptive pain is the most common type. It is caused by potentially harmful stimuli that are detected by nociceptors around the body.
Nociceptors are a type of receptor that exists to feel everything and any pain that may be caused by damage to the body. The damage can include mechanical or physical damage to various parts of the body. For example, damaged areas could include skin, muscles, bones, or other tissues.
Nociceptors can also detect chemical and thermal damage. Chemical damage is caused by contact with toxic or dangerous chemicals. Exposure to extremely high or low temperatures causes thermal damage.
Lesions that cause nociceptive pain include:
- Pain caused by overuse or joint damage, such as arthritis or sprains.
When activated by stimuli, nociceptors notify the brain of injury with electrical signals sent through the peripheral and central nervous system (CNS). When the brain receives the signals, it has a perception of the pain that is felt.
Nociceptive pain vs. Neuropathic pain
In comparison, neuropathic pain is related to damage to the body’s neurological system. An infection or injury commonly causes this type of pain. It leads to pain messages that are sent through the CNS to the brain.
Neuropathic pain is often described as “stabbing” pain. This is probably caused by the abnormal way it travels along the nerves.
People often say that this pain feels like a burning sensation along the path of an affected nerve. It can also be described as a feeling of numbness.
Some people say that the neuropathic pain they experience is a constant sensation. Others report episodes that come and go. Diabetic neuropathy and pain caused by multiple sclerosis are some examples of neuropathic pain.
Types and symptoms of nociceptive pain
Nociceptive pain covers most of the legs, arms, and back pain. They are categorized as root or somatic.
Radial pain occurs when the nerve roots are irritated. It travels down your arm or leg through a nerve that comes from your spinal cord.
Radiculopathy is an example of a disease that causes root pain. Radiculopathy occurs when a nerve becomes trapped in the spinal column. It causes numbness, weakness, and tingling, or a tingling sensation, among other symptoms.
Somatic pain occurs when any of the pain receptors in tissues, such as muscles, bones, or skin, are activated. This type of pain is often stimulated by movement. Usually it is localized. Headaches and cuts are considered somatic pain.
Visceral pain occurs when internal organs, such as the involuntary muscles of the heart, become injured or inflamed. This type of pain is generally described as pain. The location may seem vague.
How is nociceptive pain treated?
Treatment of this type of pain depends on the severity of the injury. For minor injuries, the pain goes away as the injury heals. However, if your pain continues, you should talk to your doctor. They will examine your injury and decide on an appropriate method of pain relief.
Your pain management is decided based on your symptoms and what caused the pain. Your doctors will evaluate:
- How intense is your pain.
- How long does it last.
- The structures involved in causing the pain.
An example of nociceptive pain that is usually less complex is a nerve root aggravated by a bulging or ruptured disc. This sends pain that radiates down your leg or arm. Sometimes the pain can be relieved with an epidural steroid injection combined with physical therapy.
If this doesn’t work, your doctor may suggest another approach. Other approaches may include:
- Changes to the way your medicines are handled.
- Surgical procedures.
- Chiropractic or physical therapy.
- Alternative therapies, such as acupuncture.
- A referral to other medical specialists.
What is the outlook for someone with nociceptive pain?
How well you do depends on what is causing it. Pain caused by a bruise should go away once the bruise has healed. However, arthritis pain can be treated with treatments, but it will not go away completely.
Talk to your doctor if your pain is severe or persistent. They can help you find ways to manage or treat your pain.