Healing Pain Holistically Part 1

Understanding the Types of Pain

Kevin Schoonmaker

6/10/20242 min read

Understanding the types of pain—structural, myofascial, and visceral—is essential in choosing the right holistic therapies for effective management. Structural pain involves the bones, joints, and connective tissues. Visceral pain originates from internal organs. Myofascial pain, which we will focus on in this and upcoming blogs, involves the muscles and the fascia (connective tissues) surrounding them. It is characterized by the presence of trigger points or sensitive areas in the muscles that cause pain when pressed.

Understanding the Types of Pain

Structural Pain

Structural pain arises from issues within the structural components of the body, such as bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. Conditions like osteoarthritis, spinal disc herniation, or ligament injuries can cause structural pain. This type of pain is typically localized, meaning it is confined to the affected area, and can be exacerbated by movement or certain positions. For instance, osteoarthritis, which involves the wearing down of protective cartilage at the ends of bones, often leads to pain that worsens with joint use. Similarly, a herniated spinal disc can press on nerves, causing localized back pain that intensifies with specific movements.

Myofascial Pain

Myofascial pain originates from the muscles and the connective tissues (fascia) surrounding them. It is often characterized by the presence of "trigger points," which are hyperirritable spots in the muscle. Myofascial pain can cause deep, aching pain in the muscle and may refer pain to other areas. Common causes include muscle overuse, stress, or injury. For example, prolonged periods of repetitive motion or poor posture can strain muscles, leading to the formation of trigger points. These trigger points can cause persistent muscle pain and stiffness, and the pain can spread to other areas, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact source.

Visceral Pain

Visceral pain comes from the internal organs, such as the stomach, intestines, bladder, or heart. This type of pain is often described as deep, pressure-like, or cramping, and it can be difficult to localize precisely. Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, kidney stones, or a heart attack can cause visceral pain. Unlike structural pain, visceral pain is often associated with autonomic symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sweating. For instance, kidney stones can cause severe, cramping pain in the lower back or abdomen, often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Similarly, a heart attack can cause chest pain that radiates to other areas and is often associated with sweating and shortness of breath.

This post is the first of a series we're doing on Healing Pain Holistically. Over the next few weeks we'll be focusing on the management and relief of myofascial pain. Managing myofascial pain can be challenging, but a holistic approach integrating various natural therapies can offer significant relief and save you the struggles of having to deal/take harmful medication. Among the many natural treatments available, massage therapy, acupuncture, hot and cold therapies, yoga, aromatherapy, herbal remedies, supplements, mindfulness, and meditation have gained prominence for their effectiveness and minimal side effects. This series of blog post will explore these holistic therapies and how they can be used to alleviate myofascial pain and how you can use them together to create a comprehensive approach to pain management.

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