Pain is one of the body’s most effective diagnostic tools. As a symptom, it can be a direct indicator to the original cause of the body’s malfunction or illness. Different types of pain allow a physician to determine whether the problem is acute or chronic. It can indicate underlying concerns that may not be realized otherwise.
Acute pain is sharp and cutting. It can range from moderate to severe and gradually increases, if its cause is not determined. Acute pain can indicate appendicitis, bowel obstructions or heart attacks. When a person suffers from acute types of pain, a physician will usually want to know how long the patient as been in pain and how it started. Was it an ache that gradually became a throbbing, piercing pain? Has the pain stayed in the same place or is it moving and radiating outward? All of these questions will help the doctor determine if there is an acute problem that needs immediate medical treatment. In some cases, acute pain indicates an illness or issue that is life threatening. When this presents itself, time is of the essence.
Chronic pain is dull and lingering. Fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and degenerative bone disease are all capable of producing chronic pain in varying degrees. This type of pain usually begins as a dull ache and continues to linger without increasing in intensity. Sometimes the pain can be accompanied by swelling, heat and redness that last for the duration. Chronic pain can last for days. It may become worse at night or if the body is exposed to cooler temperatures.
Pain can be described as piercing, stabbing, dull and throbbing. In diagnostic medicine the type of pain, its intensity and the length of duration are all indicators to the underlying cause. When pain is present with other symptoms, such as vomiting, fever and diarrhea it may caused by a virus or other illness that will pass after a few days.
Doctors who use diagnostic medicine look at pain as a guide. They use the variations of pain to pinpoint the cause of the disease or illness. By using pain to determine the source of the discomfort, they can treat the cause of the disease and not just the symptoms. If the symptoms are treated without finding the cause, it’s possible that they will return once treatment is stopped.
Pain is a valuable tool that gives doctors and researchers an idea as to how the body reacts to certain situations. People react differently to illnesses and injuries. How they perceive and handle pain can give doctors the information they need to successfully treat disease and start to restore the body to a state of balance and health.