Somatic pain arises from the skin, ligaments, tendons, muscles, blood vessels, and fascia. This write-up provides some information on the contributing factors for this type of pain.
Pain is basically, a feeling of distress or an unpleasant sensation that the sensory neurons convey to the brain when we face situations that cause bodily harm. While this sensation might be experienced in the event of actual injuries, or trauma to the body, at times, an awareness of a stimulus that might cause bodily harm can also cause such a sensation. It can also be defined as the feeling of distress along with the perception of an unpleasant sensation. It can be classified on the basis of its intensity and location. Somatic pain is one of the types that most of us experience more often.
Pain could be nociceptive or non-nociceptive. The former arises when the pain receptors or specialized nerves in the skin, joints, tendons, muscles, and organs respond to thermal, mechanical, or chemical stimuli. When the nerve cells are subjected to changes in temperature, lack of oxygen, vibrations, tearing or stretching around the tissues, these receptors get activated, as a result, signals are sent to the brain and spinal cord. When brain receives these signals, it also signals us to withdraw from such situations.
Once the injury or damage heals, the receptors stop sending the signals and the unpleasant sensation subsides. When this unpleasant sensation does not subside and persists, it is classified as chronic.
Nociceptive pain is further classified into somatic or visceral. In case of the former, the receptors are located in the skin or musculoskeletal tissues, whereas the latter occurs when the receptors located in the viscera, or the enclosed internal parts of the body are stimulated. The pain arising from the body’s internal areas such as the chest, thorax, or the pelvic region, is more difficult to locate. It could even be felt in an area other than the origin. Stretching, extension, or compression of these areas might cause such a sensation.
Generally, this is a deep-squeezing pain or a sensation of pressure. The pain is classified as non-nociceptive or neuropathic, when it doesn’t arise due to the stimulation of the receptors, but arises due to damaged or dysfunctional nerve fibers within the central and peripheral nervous system.
This type is classified into deep and superficial. The former arises from the stimulation of receptors in musculoskeletal tissues (muscles, ligaments, joints, or bones), and is dull and localized in nature. The latter arises from the receptors on the cutaneous tissues (superficial tissues or the skin). It is mostly caused due to trauma or injury. It is sharp and well-defined in nature, as many receptors are located under the surface of the skin. The affected individual might also experience other symptoms such as bleeding, swelling, soreness, or cramping.
The treatment options might involve the use of analgesics, opioids, steroids, or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In case of soft tissue damage, bruises, burns, cuts, or trauma to cutaneous tissues, the treatment usually involves the topical application of medicated creams and ointments along with analgesics.
Muscle tears, sprain, cuts, burns, and wounds are some common injuries that give rise to somatic pain. It can be managed with the help of the aforementioned treatment options. Once the injury heals, the pain will resolve as well.