Differences Between Neuropathic and Nociplastic Pain

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Typically, the sensation of pain is associated with the communication between the nerves, the brain, and the spinal cord. There can be different types of pain –depending on the underlying cause.

We tend to feel pain in different ways. Therefore, it is difficult to explain the exact type of pain that you are experiencing to others. Moreover, at a time, you can feel different types of pain. It only adds to the overall difficulty.

When you understand different types of pain, it becomes easier to talk out about the same to the doctor while describing your symptoms. Let us know about the core points of differences between neuropathic and nociplastic pain.

What is Nociplastic Pain?

It is the term that is used for suggesting a specific pain category that turns out to be distinct from nociceptive or neuropathic pain. The mechanism underlying the cause of nociplastic pain is not understood explicitly. However, it is believed that sensory processing and augmented CNS pain, along with altered pain modulation, can play crucial roles. It is also important to know about important nociplastic pain management tips.

Some of the core symptoms associated with nociplastic pain feature multi-focal pain that is more intense and widespread, or even both. The symptoms are expected to be derived from potential nerve damage or some identifiable tissue damage. There is the occurrence of other CNS-associated symptoms as well. These include fatigue, mood problems, memory issues, and sleep problems.

Nociplastic pain occurs in isolation. It is usually associated with conditions like tension-related headaches, fibromyalgia, or a mix-state combination of neuropathic and nociceptive pain. It is important to recognize the pattern of nociplastic pain. This is because it will respond to different types of therapies when compared with nociceptive pain.

What is Neuropathic Pain?

In most cases, a trauma or an accident could lead to potential nerve damage. Nerves could eventually become dysfunctional or weakened. Therefore, the body might become hypersensitive to pain. Even when the wounds might have healed properly, the body continues receiving signals for pain in specific nerves. It is a sign of neuropathy pain.

In the case of neuropathy pain, the given pain is the disease itself. Neuropathy can be the result of any pain that arises out of damaged or suppressed nerves in case the pain triggers.

Neuropathic pain is also referred to as the nerve pain and can be chronic. Some of the common conditions leading to neuropathic pain include:

  • Amputation
  • Cancer
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Multiple sclerosis

What is Nociceptive Pain?

It is mostly acute in nature. It is known to develop due to a specific response to a particular situation. It might go away once the affected part of the body has healed. For instance, nociceptive pain arising out of a broken ankle will get better once the ankle would heal.

Nociceptors are specific receptors that are designed specifically to detect stimuli causing harm to the body. It could be thermal, chemical, or mechanical in nature. For instance, these pain receptors are capable of sensing when there is some damage to the muscles, skin, connective tissues, or bones in the body, or when they might be exposed to extreme temperatures or harmful chemicals.

Nociceptors usually feature a higher threshold. However, upon activation, the given receptors will be sending electrical signals implying pain to the body’s central nervous system for delivering the perception or feeling of pain to the affected area of the body.

Causative Factors for Differentiation

The main cause of nociplastic, nociceptive, and neuropathic pain serves to be a major differentiating factor between different types of pain.

Nociceptive pain occurs when the nociceptors in the body detect potential stimuli causing harm to the body. It could include chemical toxins, mechanical pressure, and even extreme temperatures. All of these factors are responsible for harming the body.

On the other hand, neuropathic pain is the result of damage to the neurons involved in guiding pain signalling pathways in the body’s nervous system. There are several situations that could lead to potential nerve damage –including surgery, diabetes, specific infections, and so more.

Management Factors for Differentiation

As the overall pathology for neuropathic and nociceptive pain tends to differ significantly, the recommendations with respect to pain management might also differ.

In case of nociceptive pain, the first-line pain management step is associated with the use of pharmacological analgesic medication. These might include aspirin, ibuprofen, and paracetamol. In case of severe pains, you might be suggested to use prescription medication like opioids for providing instant pain relief.

In case of neuropathic pain, the treatment objective is to deliver pain relief due to damaged nerves. In most cases, prescribed analgesic medication might not be effective in delivering instant pain relief. Therefore, the nerves are targeted directly. In most cases, neurostimulation therapy is executed to excite the nervous tissues in the body’s central nervous system. As the given treatment option is capable of altering the conductivity of the nerves, it could help in relieving some of the common pain symptoms.

What is Crucial During Early Treatment?

In addition to early treatment, additional treatment might be required in case symptoms associated with the pain do not get resolved soon.

As time passes, the body becomes even more sensitive to the pain –ranging from mild touch to being exposed to conditions of severe pain. This is referred to as central sensitization.

Just like other chronic pains, treatment delays during the early stages could increase the overall chances of developing other major health problems. Some of the major health concerns related to untreated neuropathy might include stress, depression, anxiety, difficulty in sleeping, or incompetent functioning of day-to-day activities.

It is imperative for you to visit a Neuroscience expert in case any such problem occurs.

Conclusion

When you have a better understanding of the type of pain you are dealing with, it allows you to ensure the right treatment at the right time. It is essential to pay a visit to a qualified Neuroscience Specialist in any such problem would occur.

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