Different Types of Pain
Understanding the nature of the pain is very important. There are different types of pain that can occur after SCI and effective pain relief depends on a clear understanding of the nature of the pain.
Neuropathic Pain (NP)
Neuropathic Pain (NP) is common. NP is a direct result of the damage to the nerves in the spinal cord and can have very unpleasant symptoms.
How the pain is experienced will also in part depend on the level of the SCI, but it is usually described by people as a shooting, burning, stabbing or crushing sensation. This may be accompanied by other types of altered sensation such as sensitivity to touch or temperature, pins and needles or numbness.
The other main type of SCI pain is nociceptive, which acts as a warning from the body where special nerve fibres called ‘nociceptors’ will sense irritation and any possible or actual injury to a body. These nerve fibres are primarily located in the skin, joints and walls of organs and will send pain signals via peripheral nerves and the spinal cord to the brain. This is how your relative will have an awareness of pain.
Nociceptive pain is described as a dull and throbbing pain and may be confined to a specific area. Once the site of the injury has healed, the pain usually disappears shortly afterwards.
The cause of this type of pain could be due to damage to the musculoskeletal system, such as a bone fracture or damage to the tendon and surrounding soft tissue.
Finally, visceral pain can be due to gastrointestinal complications such as ulcers, appendicitis or constipation and will affect the abdominal region.
Treatment for this type of pain may require surgery or may simply involve a change of diet to relieve constipation.