Did you know that not all pain is created equal? Most of us think of pain as a single entity: when you smash your thumb with a hammer, you have pain. When you chip a tooth, you have pain. When you bang your funny bone, you have pain. When you freeze your tongue, you have pain. When your cells become cancerous, you have pain. When you undergo chemotherapy to fight the cancer, you have pain.
These are all scenarios of pain, but all are very different. Different types of body tissue are sending pain signals to the brain via different types of nerves, caused by a wide variety of stimuli and trauma, requiring an even wider variety of responses and healing processes. Yet all are classified under the same heading of "pain".
Part of the problem is that the English language only has one word for pain. Many different ideas get lumped together under that single word. Here is one way to start breaking down the idea of "pain" into different categories: fast pain and slow pain.
Fast pain is felt by your body almost immediately after the cause begins, and signals to your brain that something foreign to the body is quickly destroying your cells. This type of pain is caused by being stuck with a pin, cut, burned, or even shocked with electricity. The purpose of this fast pain is to encourage you to immediately remove yourself from the painful stimulus, whether it be a knife, a hot stove, or a live electrical outlet. This pain travels quickly to the brain, in order to encourage you to react quickly. This type of pain is often described as "sharp" pain.
Slow pain doesn't travel nearly as quickly to your brain, but slowly builds in intensity over time. Slow pain is almost always associated with a slower and more inisidious form of cell destruction: not a quick destruction as being stabbed with a pin, but a slow destruction as when cells slowly cease to function properly. Slow pain is usually caused by a constant or chronic stimulus. This type of pain is normally described as an "ache" or "dull pain". Slow pain actually travels to your brain through a whole different set of nerves than fast pain.
Slow pain and fast pain actually travel to your brain through different sets of nerves, and describe very different problems in the body. For example, if you sprain your ankle, you're more likely to experience "sharp" pain. However, if you have a pebble in your shoe that is constantly compressing your foot over time and creates an open sore, you'll be more likely to experience "dull" pain.
The difference in the types of pain can be very valuable for a doctor when diagnosing your condition. Always be sure to tell your Peoria chiropractor how your pain feels, because the type of pain you feel may be key to discovering exactly what is wrong.
Unless otherwise attributed, all content is written by Kyle Johnson, DC, of Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria.
All images used are under Creative Commons license.
Although every effort has been made to provide an accurate description of our chiropractic care and its benefits, the information given on this website and blog is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, medical advice for any condition.
If you have any questions regarding your condition, you should seek the help of Dr. Johnson in person, so that he may properly assess your condition.
This blog is provided by Johnson Family Chiropractic of Peoria, S.C., proudly located in Peoria, IL.