Types of Pain (NHS TiP Course Part5)

Pain is an all to familiar symptom for those suffering from CFS/ME.

During the course we learnt about different types of pain, which I found pretty useful as it helped me understand why a lot of pain killers don’t work for me (or the majority of ME sufferers).

Types of pain

Acute pain

I always thought that this implied severe pain, but from a medical point of view this simply refers to new pain, who knew? I certainly didn’t.

You fall down the stairs and sprain say your knee.

This pain is classified as acute, the pain meant to be a warning sign that there is a problem and potentially damage. It is there to
get us to pay attention- maybe for us to seek help or rest- warning us to slow down to heal up.

Acute pain only tends to last for maximum of 3-6 months basically how long it takes for the tissue or bone to heal.

If the pain is there after this period after it has had time to heal, it is no this regular damage.

So after 6 months after the fall, you knee has heeled but you are still in pain.

This pain is no longer useful – it doesn’t relate to a particular broken bone or damaged tissue, it has now become Chronic Pain.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can easily consume your life, and I am guilt of it doing that at times. Especially if you keep trying to figure out why you are in pain.

Seeking help can be helpful, talking to your doctor is useful to discuss different opinions and to rule out any acute issues.

As chronic pain doesn’t relate to a specific injury per say the usual pain killers that have helped previously that target specific swelling or injury will be a lot less effective.

So what is this chronic pain?

An analogy they used which really made sense to me:

In an organisation as a lot of different incoming information, using lots of different people to process this information.

Support staff filter the information and pass only the relevant and important pieces to the CEO/Boss. As the CEO can only process so much information.

If the support staff all called in sick, the CEO would have to process all the information, they would get overloaded and would struggle to sort between relevant and irrelevant in an efficient and timely manner.

Well you are the organisation, when you are suffering from chronic pain your brain is not filtering out the irrelevant information for you and so you feel pain.

But what does this mean?

Well I found the analogy above really helpful, it doesn’t mean that my pain (or anyone one with chronic pain) pain isn’t real!

Pain is a really difficult thing to live with and it can wear you down, make you not sleep or be able to get out of bed in the morning, make you feel like you are walking on glass with every step you take.  So why have I found this distinction useful?

  1. When doing stretches etc I know I am not causing any damage.
  2. Different pain killers will more or less effective, as you need to go from targeting specific injury to ones that block the messages in your brain.
  3. Enabled me to come to terms with the pain, and in some ways that as made it easier to live with, use guided meditation and breathing exercises to help.

If you liked this post you might want to check out some of my previous posts:

Or for a full list of my CFS/ME related posts check out my CFS/Me Index

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