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The Basic Types of Pain

Pain can come in many different types that we all feel differently so we use many different words to try to describe what type of pain we are experiencing much in the same way that some cultures have hundreds of words for different types of snow. The type of pain is important to help practitioners figure out the correct way to treat it. This is why we use words such as burning, tingling, aching, sharp, numbness, shooting, and dull to describe pain and we can break those down into two basic types of pain: nociceptive and neuropathic.

What is Nociceptive Pain?

Nociceptive pain is the most common type of pain that patients experience and usually involves the words aching, sharp, and dull. This is the pain that occurs from tissues and is then relayed to the brain causing us to feel pain and can be anything from drinking something too hot or falling down to repetitive strain injuries or back pain. Nociceptive pain is usually altered by changing the movement, load, and position of our body.

What is Neuropathic Pain?

Neuropathic pain is pain caused by damage to nerves. This is where the words burning, tingling, shooting, and numbness are useful and can come in a variety of causes as well. Hitting your “funny bone” is an example of direct contact causing neuropathic pain but neuropathic pain can also involve sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, Morton’s neuroma, Diabetic neuropathy, and many others. Neuropathic pain can be long lasting as nerves do not heal as fast as other soft tissue structures such as muscle, tendon, and fascia.

Treatment for Nociceptive and Neuropathic Pain

The good news is that chiropractors can treat most nociceptive and neuropathic pain diagnoses. Chiropractic adjustments combined with soft tissue treatments such as Active Release Technique and Graston Technique are made to handle both types of pain very effectively when applied to the correct tissues and in the correct way. Practitioners who are able to diagnose patients correctly are able to mold the treatment to the patient and treat the injury in a way that is not painful. Nociceptive diagnoses involve some detective work on the part of the practitioner to determine where the pain is coming from as some patients may have pain in one spot but can be caused by an underlying structure such as having pain in the low back caused by a dysfunction of the hip. Neuropathic pain diagnoses usually comes down to an efficient exam and then treating around and following the path of the injured nerve pathway.

At Hamilton Chiropractic in Belmont, Dr. Ryan Hamilton uses a comprehensive exam and/or functional assessment to diagnose his patients correctly. A correct diagnosis allows the patient to recover as quickly as possible by treating the correct structures rather than guessing. This is why patients with a wide array of issues from sciatica and tibial nerve entrapment to shoulder pain and headaches are treated successfully by Dr. Ryan Hamilton. If you or someone you know can benefit from this type of treatment, please contact us on our website at

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