The word pain traces its origins through French to Latin and finally the Greek word “poine,” which means a penalty or punishment. Unfortunately the etymology of the word is easier to define than what pain actually is. The difficulty in defining pain is due to tolerance and perception differences between people. Dictionary.com defines pain as, “physical suffering or distress due to injury or illness,” and “a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body.” While these definitions give us an idea of what pain is, it doesn’t tell us how pain works or if there are different types of pain.
The Technical Side of Pain
In a nutshell pain is your brain’s way of interpreting a stimulus. This stimulus can be external, like a cut from a knife, or internal, like a pulled muscle. When a stimulus is felt by one of your nerves it is passed along your nerves until it reaches your brain. Once there the brain can interpret that stimulus as pleasant or unpleasant. Pleasant stimuli, like a massage from your office massage chair, results in your brain interpreting that sensation as something you probably don’t mind. Unpleasant stimuli like a burn or injured joint, cause your brain to tell you that something bad is happening. Basically pain is your brains way of telling you to stop what you are doing because what you are doing is damaging you. Pain is just your brain’s way of protecting you body from damage.
Classifications Of Pain
There are many different types of pain, but these types can usually be grouped into either acute, chronic pain, or breakthrough pain.
Acute pain - This is the pain you feel that lasts a short amount time. While you may think this pain is long lasting, in medical terms it has a short duration. You may feel acute pain after an injury, during an illness, or following a surgery.