Large numbers of people seek treatment for pain somewhere in the body. Pain is a protective mechanism of the body which tells a person that something is wrong somewhere which has to be corrected.
Sensation of pain travels from the peripheral nerves to a part of the brain, perceiving pain through various pathways in the spinal cord and brain stem.
There is an emotional overlay to pain which differentiates the response to pain in different people. Some people face severe pain bravely, while some cry even with mild pain.
Right from infancy to old age, a person can suffer from acute or chronic pain due to various causes. Acute pain anywhere in the body is caused due to injury or inflammation. Chronic pain is mostly due to chronic inflammation or degeneration and can also be due to malignancy anywhere in the body.
Somatic pain arises from any limb or peripheral part of the body. This type of pain is fairly well localized and is aggravated by movement of the affected part. It arises after a definite stimulus. A person can tell clearly that his wrist is paining after accidentally hitting the door.
Visceral pain is the one which arises from some inner organ like the stomach or intestines. It can be localized or generalized. It can be colicky in nature (i.e. cramp like) as in intestinal colic or severe and agonizing as in acute appendicitis. Visceral pain is commonly associated with nausea, vomiting or bloating sensation.
Pain occurring due to involvement of nerves is in form of a burning sensation. It is always localized over the affected nerve or nerve endings, as in herpes zoster infection. Affected person tells very clearly that this pain is different from any kind he has experienced before.
Apart from these conditions, it is also a very common symptom of psychosomatisation. Mimicking pain in any part of the body is common for a person who stands to gain something by pretending to be sick with it.
Pain is a purely subjective experience hence the intensity of the problem may not be according to the description by the patient. Diagnosis of the cause of pain is mostly made by clinical examination and relevant tests.
Pain relieving drugs are useful for providing relief in case of somatic pain. Fractures or sprains need immobilization for reducing the pain. Hot compression is useful in suppressing muscular pains or pain due to gaseous distension. Antispasmodic drugs are used to alleviate colicky pain.
Many of the conditions causing visceral pain are correctable by surgery, e.g., gall bladder or kidney stones.
Neuralgias or pain caused by nerve involvement is distinct from other kinds of pains as it is not relieved by the commonly used pain killers and one needs other drugs. Pain killers like aspirin, Ibuprofen, e.t.c., should be taken only when absolutely necessary, as when used for long they tend to produce gastric ulcers and kidney failure.
Pain killer opiod drugs like morphine cause constipation and are addicting when used for long. Antispasmodic drugs used to treat colicky pain also tend to induce and aggravate constipation. One should try to reduce chronic pain by changes in the life style or other pain producing factors. In degenerative conditions like spondylosis, regular exercises are much more useful than medicines.
If a person is found to be a malingerer and mimicking pain for some personal motive, he should be counseled for the same. He should be told that feigning sickness is not going to solve any problem.
One need not become overtly anxious on experiencing pain somewhere. It is a signal from the body alerting one to be cautious and correct what is going wrong.