Doctors separate pain into two large and broadly-defined types — neuropathic pain and nociceptive pain. A nociceptive pain is pain that all people will experience at some time in their lives. It is pain that is caused by damage to the tissue — a cut, a bruise, a burn, a sprain, etc. We experience this type of pain because damaged nerve endings send pain messages to the brain.
As the name suggests, neuropathic pain has to do with the nerves themselves. Specifically, this pain is experienced as a result of damage to the nerves when there has been no injury. Not surprisingly, this type of pain can be difficult to treat because there is no obvious external damage. It is also frustrating for the patient because the nerves are essentially malfunctioning, which means that they can send continuous pain messages to the brain.
People who suffer from neuropathic pain often describe it as a kind of burning or stabbing sensation. Some even say that it feels a bit like electric shock. What causes it? Most patients who are diagnosed with neuropathic pain also suffer from a chronic condition or disease. Cancer, HIV, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and alcoholism have all been shown to increase the likelihood of neuropathic pain.
How do you treat it? While traditional painkillers may be of some benefit, they can only dull the pain, not stop it. To relieve pain for extended periods of time, most patients rely on a number of treatments including prescription medicines, physical and psychological therapy.