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Types of Pain
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What is Pain?
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience. Every animal is different and individual animals will have very different experiences of the same pain. In non-verbal species it is not always easy to identify and quantify pain and unfortunately pain is not always easy to treat.
willows-cardiology-icon
What is Pain?
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience. Every animal is different and individual animals will have very different experiences of the same pain. In non-verbal species it is not always easy to identify and quantify pain and unfortunately pain is not always easy to treat.
Are there Different Types of Pain?

In general, there are three types of pain, based on where in the body the pain is felt:

  • Somatic pain (from bones, muscles and skin)
  • Visceral pain (from internal organs)
  • Neuropathic pain (from nerves and spine).

The three pain types can be felt at the same time depending on the type of injury and they may require different types of pain medications. Pain of all three types can be either acute or chronic. Acute (sudden pain) is necessary in terms of survival and signals a threat to the animal. However, pain that is ongoing (chronic) does not usually have any beneficial effect and needs to be treated.

Are there Different Types of Pain?
In general, there are three types of pain, based on where in the body the pain is felt:
  • Somatic pain (from bones, muscles and skin)
  • Visceral pain (from internal organs)
  • Neuropathic pain (from nerves and spine).
The three pain types can be felt at the same time depending on the type of injury and they may require different types of pain medications. Pain of all three types can be either acute or chronic. Acute (sudden pain) is necessary in terms of survival and signals a threat to the animal. However, pain that is ongoing (chronic) does not usually have any beneficial effect and needs to be treated.
Are there Different Types of Pain?
In general, there are three types of pain, based on where in the body the pain is felt:
  • Somatic pain (from bones, muscles and skin)
  • Visceral pain (from internal organs)
  • Neuropathic pain (from nerves and spine).
The three pain types can be felt at the same time depending on the type of injury and they may require different types of pain medications. Pain of all three types can be either acute or chronic. Acute (sudden pain) is necessary in terms of survival and signals a threat to the animal. However, pain that is ongoing (chronic) does not usually have any beneficial effect and needs to be treated.

What is Somatic Pain?
Somatic pain is the result of an injury to part of the body such as a muscle or a bone. When one of these tissues is damaged, pain sensors send pain messages to the brain and the spinal cord. The pain feels as if it is in one place, it is constant and often aches or throbs. Somatic pain is caused by inflammation, repetitive trauma or excessive activity and it is usually relieved by rest and pain killers.

What is Visceral Pain?
Visceral pain results when the internal organs, such as stomach, kidney, gall bladder, urinary bladder or intestines are damaged or injured. Visceral pain is vague, not localised and is usually dull or diffuse. There may be other symptoms associated with visceral pain, such as fever, nausea and diarrhoea.

What is Neuropathic Pain?
Neuropathic pain is the result of a problem with the nerves themselves and is often caused by an injury or an operation. Any event that can cause an injury to the muscle or a bone has the potential to damage the nerves at the same time. Nerves can also be damaged or squeezed by tumours and scar tissue, or irritated by an infection. Neuropathic pain feels like burning, stabbing, ‘pins and needles’ sensation or an electric shock. Strong pain resulting from only a light touch is also common. Neuropathic pain may last for months or years and can be difficult to treat.

What is Acute Pain?
This is instantaneous pain that is usually the outcome of a physical trauma e.g. a road traffic accident, a broken bone, inflammation or an infection. This is emergency pain that is trying to warn the sufferer that the body is being damaged in some way. Acute pain is short lasting and usually manifests in ways that can be easily described and observed. It can be extremely uncomfortable, and may limit a pet’s mobility. Acute pain normally goes away with time and treatment.

What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting more than three months. It is much more subjective and not as easily described as acute pain. Chronic pain, unlike acute pain, will not simply go away and continues even after healing has occurred. Ongoing pain does not generally have any benefits to a patient, and in fact it has many disadvantages. Many conditions produce chronic pain, these include osteoarthritis, spinal disorders and cancer.

Anaesthesia and Analgesia – Find Out More

To assist owners in understanding more about Anaesthesia and Analgesia, we have put together a range of information sheets to talk you through the some of the main areas of pain management at Willows.