Understanding Nociceptive Pain

Understanding Nociceptive Pain

Most of us have heard of neuropathic pain, which is composed of symptoms that happen when nerve pathways are blocked, “pinched,” or damaged. Sciatica and peripheral neuropathy are two common examples of neuropathic pain. 

But guess what? There’s a second type of pain — nociceptive pain — and, although we rarely hear that term, nociceptive pain is actually a lot more common than neuropathic pain. In fact, any type of pain that isn’t neuropathic is nociceptive. That’s kind of a broad way to define nociceptive pain; the way nociceptive pain happens and the symptoms it causes are, of course, more complex.

At Easy Reach Chiropractic, our team of skilled pain management specialists have extensive experience treating nociceptive pain (and neuropathic pain, too). Here’s what they want you to know about nociceptive pain, including how it happens and how it can affect your body.

Nociceptive pain: The basics

At its most basic, nociceptive pain is pain that originates with special cells called nociceptors. These cells are found in your skin, joints, and other tissues. Nociceptors are neurons that respond to specific stimuli, like pressure or temperature, sending “warning signals” to the brain.

Generally speaking, nociceptive pain is what you feel when tissues are injured. For instance, if you stub your toe, that ache you feel is nociceptive pain. Sunburn causing stinging sensations in your skin? Again, that’s nociceptive pain. Get some salt in a tiny cut on your finger? Your nociceptive pain receptors will leap into action.

When your nociceptors sense an injury, they release special chemicals. These chemicals act as messengers to “tell” your brain that you might have an injury. 

Four stages of pain

The nociceptive pain “process” can be divided into four stages.

Stage 1. Transduction

Transduction is the first stage. This is when a stimulus, like a burn or a cut, alerts your nociceptors, which, in turn, convert that stimulus event into a chemical nerve signal.

Stage 2. Transmission

Transmission is the stage during which those initial chemical pain signals travel to your brain. Nerve signals travel from one neuron to another via synapses, spaces between neurons that are designed to carry electrical signals. From the site of injury, the nerve signal travels through the peripheral nervous system to the spinal cord and finally to the brain.

Stage 3. Modulation

Once your spinal cord and brain receive those pain signals, they “decide” how to use that information. Typically, that means either increasing (up-regulating) or decreasing (down-regulating) those signals, actions that determine how you perceive that pain.

Stage 4. Perception

The last stage is perception. This is how your body “feels” pain, and it also triggers a response to that stimuli — for instance, pulling our hand away from a hot stove.

Understanding this process helps your pain management provider determine the best way to “short circuit” the pain process and relieve painful symptoms.

Treating nociceptive pain

Like neuropathic pain, nociceptive pain requires custom treatment to achieve the best results. Our team uses an array of approaches to pain management, combining different therapies based on each patient’s symptoms, medical history, and responses. 

Depending on your pain symptoms and other factors, we may suggest therapies like:

Plus, we’ll help you make lifestyle changes that support better sleep, better mobility, and other benefits for your physical and emotional wellness. 

Our team also performs regular assessments of your progress, adjusting your regimen to keep you moving forward toward your goals. And of course, we’re always on hand to answer questions and address any concerns you may have.

Take control of your pain

Don’t let pain control your life. Whether you have neuropathic pain, nociceptive pain, or a combination of both, our team can help. To learn how, book an appointment online or over the phone at our practices in Lake Worth or Fort Lauderdale, Florida, today.

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