Two Types of Pain

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There are Two Types of Pain: Which are You Suffering From?

Though there are many back-pain conditions, such as sciatica, scoliosis, and a herniated disc, we can narrow them down to two basic categories: nerve-based pain and tissue-based pain.

You may have one or the other, or you may have both. Some treatments will ease nerve pain, others improve tissue pain. Some might, in some cases, work for both. But determining the right treatment for your particular case can require some investigation. This is, incidentally, why so many back-pain sufferers find inconsistent relief.

Let me explain the differences between the two types of pain.

As the name suggests, nerve-based back pain is caused by a nerve that’s not happy for some reason. Typically, it’s being pressured, pinched, compressed, or bone.

For example, if a nerve is surrounded by or next to a muscle that’s unusually tight and inflexible, that muscle presses on the nerve, causing it to hurt. This is common in sciatica.

If a nearby piece of bone, such as a vertebra in your spinal column, is out of position, it also might press on the nerve, causing pain. These bones themselves may be out of position due to an overly tight or inflexible muscle nearby. In other words, the whole process may start with a tight muscle but end with a nerve that’s irritated by a bone.

Nerve pain often, but not always, is felt as a burning, tingling, sharp, shooting, electrical, or numb sensation, or like “pins and needles.”

Tissue-based pain, on the other hand, originates in the muscles, tendons, ligaments, or other connective tissues in the body. (Most commonly, the pain originates in the muscles.) Think back to the last time you gave someone a neck or back massage. You may recall feeling one or more “knots” in the muscles. These knots are one of the main causes of tissue-based pain. One way to tell if a knot is really a knot, or just a bone, is to see if it exists on both sides of the body in the exact same position. If it appears on both sides, it might be a bone or part of a joint. If it only appears on one side, it’s more likely a knot.

This knot is more formally known as a “trigger point.” I don’t know why it’s called this, but I suspect it’s because if you press firmly on it, it triggers pain. Trigger points also are known to trigger pain in areas of the body other than where they’re located, and this is called “referred pain.”

A trigger point is caused in part by a pooling of toxins in your muscle tissue–which, in turn, is usually caused by imbalances in your diet, excess negative stress, and/or damage to the actual muscle fibers as a result of an injury and/or excessive exercise or physical activity.

If you’re under a lot of stress, for example, your body’s natural tendency is to shift to more shallow breathing and to “freeze” parts of your upper body (clenched jaws and tense shoulders are a few examples). This “freezing” reduces the amount of oxygen in your body and slows the circulation of blood in certain areas–such as your back. Without the optimal level of oxygen from deep breathing and without natural body movement to keep the blood flowing, toxins get “stuck” within tight muscle tissue. If this is allowed to continue for a long enough period of time, a trigger point develops, causing pain.

Other types of tissue-based pain, such as pulled or strained tendons or ligaments, also can be caused by overuse. While a sudden trauma or injury can pull a ligament–a very extreme form of overuse–doing the same type of moderate-intensity activity too many times can strain a tendon or ligament, too. There is a fine line between using and overusing your tendons and ligaments.

Notice how similar types of sharp, shooting pain–a trigger point in the muscle, an inflamed tendon, or a compressed nerve–can be caused by entirely different reasons. As you’ll see in the next chapter, this is quite common. You also will see that if you don’t know what’s causing your pain, you could very easily choose the wrong treatment approach!

You may already have an idea which type of pain you have. If not, you’ll figure it out shortly with the information to come. For now, just remember that you need to know what’s causing the pain before you can reasonably expect to get rid of it.

Find out why you’re still in pain and what you can do about it in this video

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Comments

  1. Bill Pomeroy says

    Thank you for your interest and support. I do not spend a lot of time on the computer. I have fallen twice. Once I landed on the back of my neck and shoulder on the right side. One rib was pushed away from the spine on the left side. The second time I slipped going down the stairs and fell backwards on the stairs. Nothing has been broken but MRI’s show a lot of damage. I do a lot of twisting and stretching many times laying across my bed. my condition is livable, but the pain is always there sometimes more sometimes less

  2. Patricia Harris says

    I am trying to get help for my daughter. She is 61 and has been told (MRI) that she has scolosis. Her spine is very crooked. One vertebra is out of place and was told she needs fusion L4 L5 to correct this. then she might need another surgery in a couple of years. She 25-30% pulled to one side. . Can’t carry anything heavy in her left arm because it pulls her forward. When this first happened we thought it was from repeative motion at work. One side to the other. Went to a chriopractor for over a year and my daughter kept telling him I think I have scolosis. He said No and kept on with treatments. Then her insurance ran out and he said. “I Think you have Scolosis” Daa. She is on disability and unable to work so I am trying to help her beause she is scared to have the surgery. I do have the 7 day back cure book, which I am still reading. but need to do something before she gets any worse. When I get done helping her then I need to take care of my neck problems. Sooo Jesse any help we can give will be greatly appreciated.
    We thank you so very much. Patricia Harris and Deborah Wade.

  3. Nsidibe Udokpan says

    my son is twelve years six months and says the back pain feels like the spinal cord turns and twist. Is there specific exercise he can do to stop the lower back pain

  4. Admin says

    Nsidibe,

    Please do get yourself a copy of our free back pain book The 7 Day Back Pain Cure. It has a lot of information regarding the back, treatment options and pain relief plus many other useful aspects for you to read and consider. We do hope you find it helpful.

    “Click here for your Free Book”

  5. Timothy Adamson says

    Hi Jesse Cannone, i have down load your book and in the process of reading it, i will get back to you and let you know the results. Thank You

  6. Luwanna Delaney says

    I have your book and to your question… 4 to 5 bulged herinated disc and sciatic nerve pain in buttlocks into my legs. right is like a tight band just below the knee area. I do not wish to have metal rods in my back. need your help and I did not finds what foods not to eat.

  7. Steve says

    Luwanna,

    Thank you use letting us know you have our book and sorry to hear of your condition, that said, let me ask you, did you read the section on Muscle Balance Therapy and Muscle Imbalance, do you understand, our concept of looking for the root cause of your Herniated Disc?

    Please understand that it is your Herniated Disc that is causing your Sciatica, and that the feeling you are feeling, in your buttocks called Sciatica, is not a separate condition but a symptom of the Herniated Disc.

    And a Herniated Disc can be caused by many Issues, including trauma as well as many years of What we call Postural Dysfunctions, caused by Muscle Imbalances.

    And in order to to get relief from the sensation of Sciatica you will need to Identify and correct your postural dysfunctions and to correct your postural dysfunction you will need to correct your Muscle imbalances and we do that with our Muscle Balance Therapy Program, outlined in the book…

    Further, did you read and understand the specific Action Plan that is outlined for treating a Herniated Disc, in the book? If not that is a must read, as we lay out all of you options on how to address that condition.

    Please feel free to as me direct and specific questions relating to the book and your situation.

    HBI Support
    Steve

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