Pain is the body's natural response to harm or possible damage. Pain occurs when special nerve endings, called pain receptors, are turned on because of illness or injury or when chemical changes within the body indicate that body tissues are damaged. When a pain receptor is turned on, it triggers the release of chemicals that sends a signal to the brain. The signal travels within the spinal cord to the brain, which recognizes the signal as pain.
There are two types of pain: nociceptive and neuropathic. Each type is set apart by its cause, how long it lasts, what it feels like, and the types of treatment that may help it.
When pain lasts for a long time, it is called chronic pain. This type of pain is often caused by illness or injury. And it is complicated because the source of the pain is often unknown. Some doctors consider pain to be chronic when it lasts one month longer than expected, but the general medical definition is pain that has lasted for six months or longer.
Chronic pain is difficult to treat because it varies so much from person to person. Even two people with the same kind of pain may need different treatments. Chronic pain is also problematic because it can change frequently—from day to day, week to week, and month to month. It can even change hourly, depending on your activity, mood, stress level, and general health.
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