Regardless of the location, duration, frequency and intensity of pain, every attempt must be made to determine its etiology. Ideally, treating the underlying cause of pain can enable the definitive cure of the pain syndrome. At a minimum, however, etiologic clarification will alert the clinician as to whether causative or symptomatic treatment is better or, more commonly, whether a combination of both is necessary.1

Pain that is caused by the presence of a painful stimulus on nociceptors is called nociceptive pain. Nociceptive pain in its acute form usually serves an important biological function, as it warns the organism of impending danger and informs it of tissue damage or injury.

Pain initiated or caused by a primary lesion or dysfunction in the nervous system is called neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain occurs as a result of damaged nerve fibres, with the pain impulse emanating from the neuronal structures themselves, rather than from stimulated nerve endings.

Inflammatory pain is associated with tissue damage and inflammation. It promotes healing by preventing contact and movement.

The graphic below gives you an overview of the systematics of different pain types classified according to their pathogenesis:


Different types of pain



1 Cole BE; Pain Management: Classifying, Understanding, and Treating Pain; Hospital Physician:  June 2002 (23-30).