The key difference between nociceptive and neuropathic pain is that nociceptive pain is due to the potential physical damage in body tissues, while neuropathic pain is due to damage or injury in sensory neurons and neural pathways of the somatosensory nervous system.
Pain is a signal generated by the nervous system. It is a general term that describes uncomfortable sensations in the body. Pain can have several sensations such as annoying, debilitating, sharp stab, dull ache, throbbing, pinching, stinging, burning, or soreness. It is the most common reason for physician consultation in most developed countries. Moreover, it can interfere with a person’s quality of life. There are several types of pain, such as nociceptive, neuropathic and functional.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Nociceptive Pain
3. What is Neuropathic Pain
4. Similarities – Nociceptive and Neuropathic Pain
5. Nociceptive vs Neuropathic Pain in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Nociceptive vs Neuropathic Pain
What is Nociceptive Pain?
Nociceptive pain is due to potential physical damage caused to body tissues. Nociceptive pain is usually acute, and it develops in response to a specific situation. As the affected body part heals, nociceptive pain tends to go away. For example, nociceptive pain that is due to a broken angle gets better when the ankle heals.
The human body has specialized nerve cells that are called nociceptors. They detect noxious stimuli that can damage the body, such as heat, cold, pressure, pinching or chemicals. Once they are triggered, these nerve cells send warning signals along the nervous system to the brain. This ultimately results in nociceptive pain. The above process happens very quickly in real-time. That is why people tend to remove their hands if they touch a hot oven.
Internal organs also have nociceptors. But, their alarming signals are less easy to pinpoint. Generally, the information that is provided by nociceptive pain helps the body to protect and heal itself. A diagnostic test called “painDETECT questionnaire” can diagnose this condition. The location of the nociceptive pain is the musculoskeletal system, which includes joints, muscles, skin, tendons, and bones. Treatment is usually conventional analgesics.
What is Neuropathic Pain?
Neuropathic pain is due to damage or injury in sensory neurons and neural pathways of the somatosensory nervous system. It is different from nociceptive pain. This is because it does not develop in response to any outside stimulus or specific circumstance. Neuropathic pain is usually chronic, and it is referred to as nerve pain. Many different conditions and diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, stroke, cancer, cytomegalovirus infection, and amputation can cause neuropathic pain.
The “painDETECT questionnaire” can be used for the diagnosis of this condition. The location of the pain includes the front of the thighs, near the eyes, wrists, lower back, chest, and shoulders. Moreover, treatments normally involve treating the underlying condition, antidepressants, and antiepileptics.
What are the Similarities Between Nociceptive and Neuropathic Pain?
- Nociceptive and neuropathic pain are two types of pain.
- Both conditions are connected to the sensory nervous system.
- The lower back is a common location for both pain types.
- Both conditions can be diagnosed through “painDETECT questionnaire.
- They are treatable conditions.
What is the Difference Between Nociceptive and Neuropathic Pain?
Nociceptive pain occurs due to potential physical damage in body tissues, while neuropathic pain occurs due to damage or injury in sensory neurons and neural pathways of the somatosensory nervous system. So, this is the key difference between nociceptive and neuropathic pain. Furthermore, nociceptive pain is usually an acute condition, whereas neuropathic pain is usually a chronic condition.
The following infographic lists the differences between nociceptive and neuropathic pain in tabular form for side by side comparison.
Summary – Nociceptive vs Neuropathic Pain
Both acute and chronic pains affect millions of people around the world. Nociceptive and neuropathic pain are two types of pain. Nociceptive pain arises when physical damage is caused to body tissues. Neuropathic pain arises due to damage or injury caused to sensory neurons and neural pathways of the somatosensory nervous system. Thus, this summarizes the difference between nociceptive and neuropathic pain.
1. B, Nicholson. “Differential Diagnosis: Nociceptive and Neuropathic Pain.” The American Journal of Managed Care, U.S. National Library of Medicine.