Expert Health Articles

The Three Types of Musculoskeletal Pain

Heather Auxier, APRN-CNP

Certified Nurse Practitioner
Blanchard Valley Pain Management

What is chronic pain? This is an unfavorable, unpleasant sensory and emotional experience that is persistent lasting weeks to years. 

The three types of musculoskeletal pain include nociceptive, neuropathic and nociplastic.

Nociceptive pain can be associated with tissue damage or injury. Examples of this kind of pain would include spraining your ankle or touching a hot stove. 

Burning, stabbing, shooting and prickling are often descriptive words for neuropathic pain.  

Often, people will say this pain travels or is radicular in nature. Other diagnoses for this kind of pain include trigeminal neuralgia, diabetic neuropathy and sciatica. 

Lastly, nociplastic pain is a pain that arises from altered nociception despite no clear evidence for disease or actual threatened tissue damage, causing an activation of peripheral nociceptors or evidence for disease or lesion of the somatosensory system causing the pain. The net result of this pain is usually widespread and amplified. Fibromyalgia is considered a nociplastic type of pain. 

The treatment for chronic pain is based on severity, level of disability and patients’ preferences. There are a vast number of ways to treat pain.  

Usually, one of the first treatment methods attempted includes physical therapy, exercise and stretching, stress management and relaxation techniques. 

Therapies including biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy and massage are other modalities that can be explored. 

Interventional therapies offered through pain providers have been extremely beneficial. Their services could offer treatments such as epidurals, radio frequency ablations, joint injections, trigger point injections, and Botox infiltrations. These treatments can aid in decreasing all three kinds of musculoskeletal pain and improve functional status and quality of life. 

Medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxers, neuropathic medications, and opioid therapy can be initiated to help ease pain. 

No matter the type of pain a person has there are ways to help manage and treat it. You can talk to your healthcare provider for further guidance and recommendations.