Acute pain begins suddenly and is usually sharp in quality. It serves as a warning of disease or a threat to the body. Acute pain may be mild and last just a moment, or it may be severe and last for weeks or months. In most cases, acute pain does not last longer than six months and it disappears when the underlying cause of pain has been treated or has healed. Unrelieved acute pain, however, may lead to chronic pain. Acute pain may be caused by many events or circumstances. These circumstances are explored below.
Neuropathy is a disorder of the peripheral Nervous System. It may be genetic or acquired, progress quickly or slowly, involve motor, sensory, and/or autonomic nerves, and affect only certain nerves or all of them. It can cause pain or loss of sensation, weakness, paralysis, loss of reflexes, muscle atrophy, or, in autonomic neuropathies, disturbances of blood pressure, heart rate, or bladder and bowel control; impotence; and inability to focus the eyes. Some types damage the neuron itself, others the myelin sheath that insulates it. Examples include Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Poliomyelitis and Shingles.
Symptoms will depend on which nerves are injured. Loss of feeling pain, especially in the feet. This can lead to serious infections, because sores or other problems may not be felt through the nervous system. When other parts of the body are affected, symptoms may include:
- Problems with digestion, such as bloating, belching, constipation, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and belly pain
- Problems with body temperature, such as heavy sweating at night or when you eat certain foods. Some people may have reduced sweating, especially in their feet and legs
- Problems with urination, such as finding it hard to tell when the bladder is full or finding it hard to empty the bladder completely.
- Sexual problems, such as erection problems in men and vaginal dryness in women
- Heart and blood vessel problems, leading to poor circulation or low blood pressure. This may cause dizziness, weakness, or fainting when standing or sit up from a reclining position
- Trouble sensing when blood sugar is low
Diabetic Neuropathy is nerve damage caused by diabetes. People with diabetes often have high blood sugar levels. Over time, high blood sugar levels can damage nerves throughout the body. Over time, high blood sugar levels from diabetes can damage nerves throughout your body. The higher the blood sugar levels, the more likely the nerve damage. Controlling blood sugar throughout a patient’s life is very important.
There are three kinds of diabetic neuropathy:
- Peripheral neuropathy is damage to peripheral nerves. These are the nerves that sense pain, touch, hot, and cold. They also affect movement and muscle strength. The nerves in the feet and lower legs are most often affected. This type of nerve damage can lead to serious foot problems. The damage usually gets worse slowly, over months or years.
- Autonomic neuropathy is damage to autonomic nerves. These nerves control heartbeat, blood pressure, sweating, digestion, urination, and sexual function.
- Focal neuropathy affects just one nerve, usually in the wrist, thigh, or foot. It may also affect the nerves of the back and chest and nerves that control the eye muscles. This type of nerve damage usually happens suddenly.
The older a patient gets, and the longer they have diabetes, the more likely they will have nerve damage. About half of all people who have diabetes experience diabetic neuropathy.
The cause of abdominal problems can be hard to pinpoint. Sometimes minor and serious abdominal problems start with the same symptoms. Fortunately, most abdominal problems are minor, and home treatment is all that is needed. Many times the exact cause of abdominal pain is hard to find. The severity of the pain, its location and other symptoms can help determine what is causing the pain.
- Generalized pain occurs in half of the abdomen or more. Generalized pain can occur with many different illnesses and will usually go away without medical treatment. Indigestion and the stomach flu are common problems that can cause generalized pain. Home treatment may help relieve some of the discomfort. Generalized mild pain or cramping pain that becomes more severe over several hours may be a symptom of a blockage of the intestines (bowel obstruction).
- Localized pain is located in one area of the abdomen. Localized pain that comes on suddenly and gets worse is more likely to be a symptom of a serious problem. The pain of appendicitis may start as generalized pain, but it often moves (localizes) to one area of the abdomen. The pain from gallbladder disease or peptic ulcer disease often starts in one area of the abdomen and stays in that same location. Localized pain that gradually becomes more severe may be a symptom of inflammation of an abdominal organ.
- Cramping is a type of pain that comes and goes (intermittent) or that changes in position or severity. Cramping is rarely serious if it is relieved by passing gas or a stool. Many women have cramping pain with their menstrual periods. Generalized cramping pain is usually not a cause for concern unless it gets worse, lasts for longer than 24 hours, or localizes. Cramping that starts suddenly with diarrhea or other minor health problems can be quite painful but is usually not serious.
Occasionally, severe pain that comes on suddenly may be a symptom of a rupture of the stomach or intestines (perforation), torsion of the testicle or ovary, a kidney stone, gallbladder disease, appendicitis or blood vessel problems, such as an aortic aneurysm. Pain that increases with movement or coughing and does not appear to be caused by strained muscles is more likely to be a symptom of a serious problem. Seek medical attention if severe abdominal pain comes on suddenly, or when new and different mild pain slowly becomes more severe over several hours or days.
After a minor abdominal injury, pain, nausea, or vomiting may occur but often gets better in a few minutes. Pain and other symptoms that continue, increase, or develop following an injury may mean an abdominal organ has been damaged. Specific abdominal symptoms have been linked with ovarian cancer. These symptoms include abdominal or pelvic pain increased abdominal size or bloating, and trouble eating or feeling full quickly.
Problems from back pain are the most common physical complaints among American adults and are a leading cause of lost job time — to say nothing of the time and money spent in search of relief. It is important to understand that back pain is a symptom of a medical condition, not a diagnosis itself. Medical problems that can cause back pain include the following:
Mechanical Problems: A mechanical problem is due to the way your spine moves or the way you feel when you move your spine in certain ways. Perhaps the most common mechanical cause of back pain is a condition called intervertebral disc degeneration, which simply means that the discs located between the vertebrae of the spine are breaking down with age. As they deteriorate, they lose their cushioning ability. This problem can lead to pain if the back is stressed. Another cause of back pain is the wearing down of the facet joints, which are the large joints that connect each vertebrae to another. Other mechanical causes of back pain include spasms, muscle tension, and ruptured discs, which are also called herniated discs.
Injuries: Spine injuries such as sprains and fractures can cause either short-lived or chronic back pain. Sprains are tears in the ligaments that support the spine, and they can occur from twisting or lifting improperly. Fractured vertebrae are often the result of osteoporosis, a condition that causes weak, porous bones. Less commonly, back pain may be caused by more severe injuries that result from accidents and falls.
Acquired Conditions and Diseases: Many medical problems can cause or contribute to back pain. They include Scoliosis, which causes curvature of the spine and does not usually cause pain until mid-life; Spondylolisthesis; various forms of arthritis, including Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Ankylosing Spondylitis; and spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column that puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. While Osteoporosis itself is not painful, it can lead to painful fractures of the vertebrae. Other causes of back pain include pregnancy; kidney stones or infections; Endometriosis, which is the buildup of uterine tissue in places outside the uterus; and Fibromyalgia, which causes fatigue and widespread muscle pain.
Infections and Tumors: Although they are not common causes of back pain, infections can cause pain when they involve the vertebrae, a condition called Osteomyelitis, or when they involve the discs that cushion the vertebrae, which is called discitis. Tumors, too, are relatively rare causes of back pain. Occasionally, tumors begin in the back, but more often they appear in the back as a result of cancer that has spread from elsewhere in the body.
Although the causes of back pain are usually physical, it is important to know that emotional stress can play a role in how severe pain is and how long it lasts. Stress can affect the body in many ways, including causing back muscles to become tense and painful. Untreated depression and anxiety can make back pain feel much worse. Likewise, insomnia, or the lack of sleep, can also contribute to back pain.
Minor shoulder problems, such as sore muscles and aches and pains, are common. Shoulder problems develop from every day wear and tear, overuse, or an injury. They can also be caused by the natural process of aging. The shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint with three main bones: the upper arm bone (humerus), collarbone (clavicle), and shoulder blade (scapula). These bones are held together by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. The shoulder joint has the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. Because of this mobility, the shoulder is more likely to be injured or cause problems. The acromioclavicular (AC) joint, which lies over the top of the shoulder, is also easily injured. Risk of developing osteoarthritis of the shoulder with its pain and physical limitations increases with age. But an injury, such as a dislocated shoulder, can lead to shoulder osteoarthritis even in young people.
Osteoarthritis — also known as degenerative joint disease — occurs when the cartilage that covers the tops of bones, known as articular cartilage, degenerates or wears down. This causes swelling, pain, and sometimes the development of osteophytes — bone spurs — when the ends of the two bones rub together.
Symptoms of Shoulder Pain
Shoulder problems can be minor or serious. Symptoms may include pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, weakness, changes in temperature or color, or changes in range of motion. Shoulder injuries most commonly occur during sports activities, work-related tasks, projects around the home, or falls.
Neck pain can occur anywhere in the neck, from the bottom of the head to the top of the shoulders. It can spread to the upper back or arms. It may limit how movement of the head and neck. Neck pain is common, especially in people older than 50. Most neck pain is caused by activities that strain the neck. Slouching, painting a ceiling, or sleeping with the neck twisted is a few of the things that can cause neck pain. These kinds of activities can lead to neck strain, a spasm of the neck muscles, or swelling of the neck joints.
Neck pain can also be caused by an injury. A fall from a ladder or whiplash from a car accident can cause neck pain. Some less common medical problems can also lead to neck pain, such as:
- An infection in the neck
- Narrowing of the spinal canal in the neck
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Neck Pain Symptoms
- Feeling, stiffness, a knot or severe pain in the neck
- The pain may spread to the shoulders, upper back, or arms
- Some patients experience headaches
- Movement such as or turning the head and neck is restricted
- If there is pressure on a spinal nerve root, might cause pain that shoots down the arm
- There may also be numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arm
If neck pain persists and develops into long-lasting (chronic), it may affect a patient’s daily life. Common side effects of chronic pain include fatigue, depression and anxiety.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is pain, tingling, and other problems in the hand because of pressure on the median nerve in the wrist. The median nerve and several tendons run from the forearm to the hand through a small space in the wrist called the carpal tunnel. The median nerve controls movement and feeling in the thumb and first three fingers (not the little finger). Pressure on the median nerve causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. This pressure can come from swelling or anything that makes the carpal tunnel smaller. Things that can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome include:
- Illnesses such as hypothyroidism, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes
- Making the same hand movements over and over, especially if the wrist is bent down (hands lower than wrists), or making the same wrist movements over and over
- Wrist injuries and bone spurs
- Smoking, because it can reduce blood flow to the median nerve
Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can cause tingling, numbness, weakness, or pain in the fingers or hand. Some people may experience pain in their arm between their hand and their elbow. Symptoms may first be noticed night. Symptoms most often occur in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and half of the ring finger. If a patient is having problems with other fingers but not the little finger, this may be a sign of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. A different nerve gives feeling to the little finger.
Repetitive Strain or Motion Injuries
Repetitive strain or motion injuries are among the most common injuries in the United States. All of these disorders are made worse by the repetitive actions of daily living. Repetitive motion injuries make up over 50% of all athletic-related injuries seen by doctors and result in huge losses in terms of cost to the workforce. Simple everyday actions, such as throwing a ball, scrubbing a floor, or jogging, can lead to this condition. The most common types of repetitive motion injuries are tendinitis and bursitis. These two disorders are difficult to differentiate and many times may coexist.
Repetitive Motion Injuries Causes
Repetitive motion disorders develop because of microscopic tears in the tissue. When the body is unable to repair the tears in the tissue as fast as they are being made, inflammation occurs, leading to the sensation of pain.
Causes of repetitive motion injuries include:
- Repetitive activity
- Crystal deposits (such as in gout)
- Systemic disease (rheumatoid arthritis, gout)
Scar Tissue Build Up
Scar tissue is the fibrous connective tissue which forms a scar; it can be found on any tissue on the body, including skin and internal organs, where an injury, cut, surgery or disease has taken place and then healed. Though scar tissue is made up of the same substance as undamaged skin, it looks different because of the way the fibers in the tissue are arranged. Scars form when the skin is damaged beyond its first layer.
Human skin is made up of three main layers, the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis. When the dermis — the pink middle layer in the cross-section of skin — is injured, the body first responds by making blood clot in the area to close off the wound. After the blood clots, the body then sends in fibroblasts, a type of cell that helps rebuild skin tissue. These cells break down the clot and start replacing it with proteins, primarily collagen, that make up scar tissue.
Though both scar tissue and normal skin contain these collagen proteins, they look different because of the way the collagen is arranged. In regular skin, the collagen proteins overlap in many random directions, but in scar tissue, they generally align in one direction. This makes the scar have a different texture than the surrounding skin.
During these first few weeks after an injury or surgery scar tissue is considered “immature”, meaning it can be easily reduced or diminished with different types of massage therapy in addition to regular physical activity. Overtime the scar tissue begins to “harden” and is not as flexible as normal skin. The scar tissue does not have a normal blood supply, sweat glands, or hair. Fluids, toxins and energy build up in the scar tissue. Because of this buildup, scar tissue can be painful both mentally and physically.
There many types of scar reduction treatment from invasive surgical procedures to non-invasive massage. The most successful treatment is using the Tennant BioModulator® devices to:
- Reduce pressure through massage on scar tissue, as well as releasing fluids and toxins surrounding the tissue.
- Continue treatment of using slow, constant, steady, multi-directional pressure to loosen and deactivate fibrous tissue. Often there is a drag or “stickiness” on the scar tissue area until the tissue begins to loosen.
- As the tissue loosen, physical changes to the scar tissue can be seen almost immediately.
- Patients are instructed to rest after the treatment, as the mental release (memory) of the scar can create relief or slight depression. Usually the patient feels a euphoric mental and physical release after the treatment. Each patient is different.