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Thread: Describing different types of pain

  1. #1
    Always late to the show Sol4rplexus's Avatar
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    Describing different types of pain

    Do you find it as difficult as me to describe stuff like different types of pain? Like, once I had an accident and the doctor asked me to describe if the pain was blunt or sharp or whatever and I thought "how do I know??"
    And what about actual, emotional feelings? In rare times I get a burst of them it's like I can't describe them with anything but the basic words you teach every child: Sad , happy , or angry . Makes me look quite retarded in conversations... Is this just me because I grew up in a very enclosed environment, or can you actually relate this to type? What's your experience with dat stuff?

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    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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    Been cut? Burnt? Stabbed? Friction burn? Abrasions? Sunburn? Blisters? Bruises? Hit with a bat? Or a ball? Pulled a muscle? Sprain, hyperextend, or twisted something? Delayed onset muscle soreness? Headache? Got something in your eye? Ear infection?

    I bring them up because I swear to god each one of those I imagine in my head as a different kind of pain. I've not knowingly broken a bone (though I've got a suspicion I may have gotten a minor fracture once) or dislocated a joint, so I can only imagine what those are like...but they don't look pleasant.

    I do get irritated at doctors asking for subjective judgements on things, such as pain ratings or normality feelings or perceptions. Reminds me of this:


  3. #3
    Always late to the show Sol4rplexus's Avatar
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    @ACow
    Lmao that comic is great.

    And no, I remember these things you mentioned as simply pain that is either a bothersome ache or "touching/moving this makes me flinch". I have a really shitty self-perception.

    This is a problem because I've been sent home by a doctor after being unable to describe my pain and they said "then it's not that bad and it will probably go away on its own". Been 3 months since and it got worse.

  4. #4
    non-canonical Light Leak's Avatar
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    Sometimes I have a hard time describing pain and sometimes I don't. If it's sharp, or throbbing, or burning I can describe it. I tend to have a harder time with the duller type pains since they still feel sort of different, but the only word that comes to mind for them is dull. I don't know how to differentiate them.

    And I can also relate to that comic.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Linnea's Avatar
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    Dull, throbbing, sharp pain. None of those actually tell whether it's very painful. I rank the intensity of pain mostly by whether the pain interferes with my thoughts or keeps me from concentrating on anything else at all. A sharp one time pain will not affect my ability to think in the long term, while continuous dull pain eventually starts demanding my attention and can keep me from sleeping.

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    Meae Musae Servus Hephaestus's Avatar
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    Once you've experienced enough traumas from known sources, I think pain get's easier to describe. It's a lousy education all around, but without the reference points of experience, how would you know what adjectives work?

    I'll make an attempt.

    A sharp pain is one that cuts into your consciousness. It's usually short-lived, but recurring. Rarely it persists. Another key feature is the size of the pain. Sharp pains are intense and focused. They often feel like a line or a wedge.

    A stabbing pain is similar, but more tightly focused, and where sharp pains might run along a layer of flesh, stabbing pains commonly drive inward. It's also usually movement related. Stabbing pains are usually in response to movement and noted for their ability to interrupt and stop it, much like stepping on a thumbtack or a burr will bring a rather sudden stop to your barefoot walking.

    Dull pains are diffuse aches. They can be muscular, bony, visceral (in the literal sense of affecting viscera), or just loosely internal to some portion of your thorax. If you've ever had achy joints from a fever, that's a dull pain.

    However, dull does not mean weak. They are usually weaker, but I've had dull pains (likely from stress fractures) that just gradually intensified until they were just a roaring scream in my head that left me unable to think. Hell of a way to wake up.

    Your first nocturnal leg cramp (likely in a decade or two) will also be a hell of a way to wake up. When I had my first one I thought for a moment, someone had broken into my room while I slept, and put a bear trap in my bed. Or possibly and angry wolverine. It felt like my calf was being ripped in half.

    Muscular pain, soreness in particular, is interesting because it can be a multi-layered spectrum of pain. If you've ever worked yourself to the point of DOMS, you've had opportunity to take a tour of the most common pain types. The pain of being at rest is generally dull and diffuse. The pain of moving is sharp and intense. The pain of having someone prod your tender tissues is usually both dull and stabbing. Moving an inflamed ligament is usually also a stabbing pain.

    Some more common English pain descriptors:

    Raking implies striations of pain, usually across muscle grain. It also implies motion to the pain. Yes, pain can have motion.

    Take your fingernail and scrape it against your forearm. Hard. Give yourself a good scratch. The pain at the point of the fingernail, as it scratches is sharp. The pain left behind is dull and radiation, and moves along the scratch in the direction of the scratch.

    Lancing is like raking but not necessarily striated, and usually in the direction of the muscle grain.

    Burning implies a sensation of warmth that is itself painful.

    Lightning implies fast, recurring, transient pain that lances through the effected body part like an electric jolt.

    Lightning is the throbbing of sharp pain. Though sometimes even throbbing pain can have a sharp leading edge, throbbing is usually a pulsing dull pain.

    Earaches are their own special hell.
    I'm suspicious of people who say they'll die for a flag but won't wear a mask for their neighbor.

  7. #7
    Always late to the show Sol4rplexus's Avatar
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    @Hephaestus
    1000 thanks! This really gave me a better understanding of the different types of pain.

    Personally I've experienced that stuff before (like all of us) but I usually just find it difficult to remember those sensations which makes it difficult to compare.

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    No Blorg's Avatar
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    non-canonical Light Leak's Avatar
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    ^
    I rate my migraines a lot as a 3 (I've gone up to about 5 for really bad ones) but that link says this about 3:

    "Three is nothing,” my father tells me now. “Three is go home and take two aspirin."
    I can say that aspirin does nothing for my migraines. What I don't know if if I should be rating the intensity as greater than 3.

  10. #10
    Sky Anvil Vison's Avatar
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    Subjective questions from doctors are the worst. I recently had to field this one:

    D: Have you ever lost awareness?
    Me: Um, can you explain the question?
    D: Have you ever been unaware of what you were doing or where you are?
    Me: ...if I was unaware but conscious how would I have enough awareness to know or remember that I was unaware?
    D: So, have you?
    Me: I... what? Isn't awareness usually variable? Like if I have a stone in my pocket, sometimes I am focused on it because I am unaccustomed to having it there but even when I'm not focused on it I haven't lost complete awareness it is there because it is still pressing into my leg? Do you mean like that but with my sense of self? I am frequently not focusing on myself but aware I am there on a low-grade.
    D: I'm confused.
    Me: Would it be like becoming unresponsive to all outside stimuli or being responsive but completely unaware of the context of anything around me or myself? Like a person with dementia? ...I don't really understand this question. I would like to answer it but I don't understand.
    D: .... take a guess.


    We eventually got this sorted.
    Oh fuck it, Its the 90's.

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