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High Chemical Company
3901 Nebraska Ave, Suite A
Levittown, PA 19056

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What is Chronic Pain?

Pathophysiology of Pain

1Although 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.

Nociceptive pain

  • 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

Neuropathic pain

  • 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
  • Postoperative pain
  • Burns
  • Ischemic pain
  • Polyneuropathy (eg, diabetic, HIV infection)
  • Trigeminal neuralgia
  • Central poststroke pain
  • Chemotherapy
Pain Pathway
Note: Click on the image to see it full size.

Note: Click on the image to see it full size.

Note: Click on the image to see it full size.

Note: Click on the image to see it full size.

Adapted from Woolf Cj. Ann Intern Med. 2004;140:441-451.