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What are types of nociceptive pain?

Most back, leg, and arm pain is nociceptive pain. Nociceptive pain can be divided into two parts, radicular or somatic.

Radicular pain: Radicular pain is pain that stems from irritation of the nerve roots, for example, from a disc herniation. It goes down the leg or arm in the distribution of the nerve that exits from the nerve root at the spinal cord. Associated with radicular pain is radiculopathy, which is weakness, numbness, tingling or loss of reflexes in the distribution of the nerve.

Somatic pain: Somatic pain is pain limited to the back or thighs. The problem that doctors and patients face with back pain, is that after a patient goes to the doctor and has an appropriate history taken, a physical exam performed, and appropriate imaging studies (for example, X-rays, MRIs or CT scans), the doctor can only make an exact diagnosis a minority of the time. The cause of most back pain is not identified and is classifies as idiopathic. Three structures in the back which frequently cause back pain are the facet joints, the discs, and the sacroiliac joint. The facet joints are small joints in the back of the spine that provide stability and limit how far you can bend back or twist. The discs are the "shock absorbers" that are located between each of the bony building blocks (vertebrae) of the spine. The sacroiliac joint is a joint at the buttock area that serves in normal walking and helps to transfer weight from the upper body onto the legs.

Fluoroscopically (x-ray) guided injections can help to determine from where pain is coming. Once the pain has been accurately diagnosed, it can be optimally treated.

Return to Pain Management

See what others are saying

Comment from: Mac, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: November 29

I have been dealing with a painful back problem associated with degenerative disc disorder for many years now. I have had surgery 5 times with spinal fusion (L-1 through L-5, S-1 and 2, and C-4-5-6). The only thing left for me is drug therapy. I use the Butrans patch and 10 mg oxycodone, every 6 to 8 hours. If anyone has a better way for me to handle my pain, I'd surely like to hear from you. The Butrans patch last for one week, 7 days. There are 4 patches in a prescription. The medication in the patch is buprenorphine, a transdermal system, long-acting extended release pain management system.

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Comment from: Linda, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: December 17

I'm type 2 diabetic I have tingling, burning, and sharp pain in my feet, hands, and all over body sometimes. When mobile I have shortness of breath but, normal breathing after resting, I wake every morning with a headache, and just feeling unwell. I'm on progesterone, and I did have metformin, but it made me ill. I wonder if these symptoms sound like neuropathy or nociceptive pain.

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Comment from: andy, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 21

I had 3 months of excruciating pain in my left groin and in front of my thigh down to my knee. My hip X-ray showed that everything is okay.

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