Pain Management Center

Pain Symptoms

People with pain may experience uncomfortable sensations. Symptoms of pain include discomfort that is often worsened by movement or pressure. The feeling of physical pain can vary greatly from mild to sharp, or from severe to dull. However, most symptoms of pain can be described as either acute or chronic.

Symptoms of acute pain
One characteristic of acute pain is that is manifests very quickly (ex. burning your hand on a hot stove). Acute pain also tends to be short-lived and confined to a given period of time and severity. It is important to note that symptoms of acute pain are highly subjective and experienced differently by different people. However, pain from different parts of the body can generally be described as:

  • aching
  • biting
  • burning
  • cramping
  • pressure
  • sharp
  • shooting
  • stabbing

Symptoms of chronic pain
In general, chronic pain is defined as pain that is unexplainable or that has endured beyond its expected healing time. Obviously, the main symptom of chronic pain is pain. But because there are so many types of chronic pain, symptoms can be vague, although the main characteristic is that chronic pain is persistent and enduring. Other characteristic of chronic pain include: aching, burning, discomfort, electrical, persistent, sharpness, shooting, soreness, stiffness, and tightness. Symptoms of chronic pain can include:

  • anger
  • anxiety
  • changes in appetite
  • depression
  • fear of re-injury
  • lack of energy
  • limited mobility
  • tense muscles

Pain can lead to other problems that affect the body and a person’s quality of life. For example, chronic pain can interfere with work, relationships and activities of daily living. In fact, chronic pain is more than just a physical symptom: it may also cause depression, fatigue, and irritability. Other complications of chronic pain include:

Immune system – Chronic pain can lead to a weakened immune system, which can cause frequent infections or illness.

Emotional problems – Chronic pain commonly can lead to depression, which can make pain worse. Chronic pain can also contribute to the development of other mood changes, such as hopelessness, fear, irritability, anxiety, and stress.

Disability – Pain which persists may contribute to not being able to go to work, school or may lead to the inability to perform other daily activities.

Fatigue – Chronic pain can cause a lack of energy. This withdrawal from activity and an increased need to rest can, in turn contribute to impatience and a loss of motivation.

Insomnia – Some cases of pain develop contribute to sleeplessness, often because the pain keeps you awake during the night.

When to seek help
Chronic pain can negatively affect all aspects of your life. So, it is important that you seek medical as soon as you recognize that pain has become chronic. Watchful waiting or observing symptoms of pain without medical treatment is not appropriate if pain is severe or if persistent pain interferes with your life. If you delay treatment, the pain may get worse.

Call a doctor about chronic pain if:

  • pain has lasted more than 3 months without a clear reason
  • you are feeling down as a result of pain
  • you are unable to sleep because of the pain
  • you have experienced an illness or injury that healed, but the pain has not gone away
  • you have a family member or friend who appears to be suffering from chronic pain

Learn the symptoms for different types of pain, so you can describe them to a doctor. Telling your doctor about pain will help during diagnosis and treatment so that you identify the right type of therapy together. Tell your doctor where the pain is, how bad it is and how often your pain occurs. Also talk about what makes the pain better or worse. To learn more about how to prepare for a doctor’s office visit, continue reading. We review diagnostic exams and tests for chronic pain to help begin the process of pain relief here.

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