Although from a sensory perspective, pain is viewed as a homogeneous entity, there are 2 distinct types of pain, differing based on receptor involvement and pain transmitter types: nociceptive and neuropathic.
- Vital physiologic sensation serving as the body’s alarm system
- Warns of potential stimuli that can result in injury or infection
- Adaptive, resulting in increased sensitivity to injured areas ensures limited contact until area is repaired
- Resulting from damage or dysfunction of the nervous system
- May result from disease or injury
Table 1: Nociceptive vs. Neuropathic Pain
|Type of Pain||Nociceptive Pain||Neuropathic Pain|
|Onset of Pain||Identifiable stimuli that normally produce tissue damage||Often spontaneous|
|Duration of Pain||Usually self-limiting||Spontaneous at onset; chronic intermittent|
|Mode of Transmission||Transmitted by structurally and functionally intact pain pathways||May involve structural and functional changes in pain pathways|
|Example of Causes||
Adapted from Woolf Cj. Ann Intern Med. 2004;140:441-451.