Examples of Somatic Pain: Somatic Pain Symptoms & Types

Examples of Somatic Pain: Somatic Pain Symptoms & Types

If you’ve learned anything about your nervous system and somatics, you might be curious: what are examples of somatic pain?

I’ve been talking a lot of about somatics and the nervous system since I began my somatic coaching certification in 2021. And strengthening my mind-body connection led me towards learning how the way I physically feel connects with my mindset, emotions and energy.

The beauty of somatic work is that you can often help relieve both physical and emotional pain in very gentle, manageable ways.

I got some questions about “somatic pain” specifically. And as someone who’s just a coach (and not a medical professional) I wanted to do some research.

In this post we dive into somatic pain definitions, symptoms and types.

Somatic Healing and Business

In my experience of entrepreneurship, the exploration of somatic pain emerged as a crucial aspect of fostering holistic personal and professional development.

This started because of limiting belief patterns I helped clients with, and extended to helping with other areas of clients’ lives.

In general, somatic coaching and the idea of somatic pain helps explore the relationship between physical sensations and their connection with individuals’ well-being.

As a business coach, understanding the nuances of somatic pain became helpful for guiding clients through challenges that extended beyond the realms of traditional coaching.

This exploration began by unraveling the layers of emotions, parts work, and then somatic pain.

And I found it helpful to dive different types of pain that individuals may encounter in their personal and professional lives. From subtle discomfort to more pronounced pain, each type of pain carries unique implications.

What Is Somatic Pain?

Somatic pain refers to the type of pain that originates from the skin, muscles, bones, and joints. It is often described as a well-localized, sharp, or throbbing pain. Those are brief examples of somatic pain. This type of pain is distinct from other types such as visceral pain (originating from internal organs) or neuropathic pain (resulting from damage to the nervous system).

Different Types Of Pain

There are several types of pain that include examples of somatic pain. Pain receptors, or nociceptors, are specialized nerve endings that detect and respond to painful stimuli. They are found throughout the body, particularly in the skin, muscles, and internal organs. When activated by injury or inflammation, nociceptors send signals to the brain, resulting in the perception of pain.

Nociceptive Pain: This type of pain is caused by tissue damage or inflammation. Somatic pain falls under this category as it arises from the activation of pain receptors (nociceptors) in the skin, muscles, bones, and joints.

Neuropathic Pain: This results from damage or malfunction in the nervous system. Conditions like diabetic neuropathy or sciatica can cause neuropathic pain.

Visceral Pain: Originating from internal organs, visceral pain is often described as a deep, aching, or cramping sensation. Conditions like appendicitis or kidney stones can cause visceral pain.

Referred Pain: This occurs when pain is felt in an area distant from the actual source of the problem. An example is pain in the left arm during a heart attack.

Psychogenic Pain: This type of pain is not caused by physical injury or damage but is related to psychological factors.

Superficial Pain: This specifically refers to pain that arises from stimuli on or near the surface of the body, such as cuts, burns, or abrasions.

The most common type of pain is nociceptive pain, which includes somatic pain.

Sources:

Nociceptive Pain – More In Depth

Nociceptive pain is a type of pain that arises from the activation or stimulation of nociceptors. These are specialized sensory receptors that respond to harmful or potentially damaging stimuli. These stimuli can be mechanical, thermal, or chemical in nature.

Here’s a breakdown:

Activation of Nociceptors:

  • Mechanical Activation: Nociceptors can be activated by mechanical stimuli, such as pressure or tissue damage.
  • Thermal Activation: Exposure to extreme temperatures, either hot or cold, can activate nociceptors.
  • Chemical Activation: Certain chemicals released during inflammation or tissue damage can activate nociceptors.

Stimulation of Nociceptors:

Actual or potential tissue damage stimulates nociceptors. This stimulation triggers a series of signals that are transmitted to the brain, leading to the perception of pain.

Examples of Nociceptive Pain:

Somatic Nociceptive Pain: Arises from nociceptor activation in the skin, muscles, or joints. Examples include cuts, burns, or fractures.

Visceral Nociceptive Pain: Originates from internal organs. Conditions like appendicitis or inflammation of internal organs can cause visceral nociceptive pain.

Sources:

Visceral Nociceptive Pain

Visceral nociceptive pain is a type of pain that originates from the internal organs and structures. It is often described as a deep, dull, or aching sensation. The autonomic nervous system manifests in different ways in your body and is closely associated with visceral pain.

Physiological changes may be associated with visceral nociceptive pain:

Blood Pressure: Visceral pain can lead to changes in blood pressure. It may cause an increase in sympathetic nervous system activity, leading to elevated blood pressure.

Heart Rate: The autonomic response to visceral pain can also affect heart rate. Painful stimuli from visceral structures may stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, resulting in an increase in heart rate.

Body Temperature: While visceral pain itself may not directly influence body temperature, the physiological stress response triggered by pain can potentially impact temperature regulation. Stress-induced changes in metabolism may contribute to alterations in body temperature.

It’s important to note that the autonomic responses mentioned above are part of the body’s natural defense mechanisms and are aimed at responding to potential threats or injuries. However, prolonged or severe visceral pain can have systemic effects on these physiological parameters.

This is why it is so important to understand our pain so we can emotionally move through our physical defense mechanisms and try to release them.

Why You Experience Somatic Pain

Somatic pain, a complex and intricate facet of the human experience, serves as a powerful alarm system alerting individuals to potential threats or harm. Unlike other types of pain, somatic pain is rooted in the body’s musculoskeletal system, and understanding its origins can provide profound insights into our overall well-being.

From the underlying physiological mechanisms to the external stimuli that elicit responses, we will explore the multifaceted nature of somatic pain. It encompasses a spectrum of factors, including noxious stimuli, medical conditions, tissue damage, and the potential implications of more serious underlying issues.

Understanding the source of our pain can help us relieve both physical and emotional pain in very gentle, manageable ways.

Examples of Somatic Pain

Common symptoms:

  • Dull ache
  • Sharp pain
  • Gnawing
  • Aching
  • Cramping

Different types of somatic pain from deep somatic pain to superficial somatic pain can have deep impacts on your daily life. Chronic pain changes your emotional experience and can impact all facets of your life including your business. If you experience severe pain, pain over larger areas of the body you might start exploring treatment options to improve your quality of life with chronic somatic pain.

Chronic Pain

Underlying condition: Check with your physician and make sure there are no lingering underlying conditions to your pain or anything left from an original injury that needs treatment.

Medical attention: Seek medical attention and a complete physical exam before making medical decisions based on your somatic pain.

Short-term pain: Determine if your pain will be short term pain or chronic pain by monitoring with your doctor.

Treatment options

It’s crucial to work closely with a healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your specific condition and address any underlying causes of somatic pain.

My non-professional opinion is to begin with holistic approaches, though. Not just because of the impact holistic approaches have had for my own pain, but also because of the work of Dr. Sarno on how often our pain can be psychosomatic.

Holistic Approach

Somatic Coaching:

The beautiful thing about the way I work with clients in somatics is that usually people only need a few sessions before they can self lead.

If you want to feel better, you have to be a better feeler. Somatic coaching empowers you to strengthen your mind body connection, empowers you to work through debilitating patterns, and helps you neutralize big emotions and triggers.

Learn more about somatic coaching.

Regulate Your Nervous System

I also recommend learning to work WITH your nervous system, which somatic coaching helps you do. But there’s also a bunch of ways you can leverage your nervous system even if you don’t want to or can’t work with a coach right now.

Learn a bunch of ways to regulate your nervous system. (17 favorite tools)

How to Regulate A Dysregulated Nervous System (General)

Physical Therapy:

Exercises and stretches prescribed by a physical therapist can help improve muscle strength, flexibility, and overall function. Physical therapy may also include modalities like heat or cold therapy.

Acupuncture:

This traditional Chinese medicine involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate energy flow and promote pain relief.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT):

CBT can help individuals manage and cope with chronic pain by addressing the psychological aspects associated with pain perception.

Lifestyle Modifications:

Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, proper nutrition, and stress management, can contribute to overall well-being and pain management.

Alternative Therapies:

Explore chiropractic care, and herbal supplements, but their effectiveness can vary, and it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional.

Traditional Medicine

Over-the-counter (OTC) Medications:

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain.

Prescription Medications:

There are other potential options available. However, one may ask for stronger prescribed pain relievers, such as opioids or muscle relaxants, in severe cases. One should explore all other options before one considers additional pain management due to potential risks and side effects.

Topical Treatments:

Topical creams or patches containing analgesic or anti-inflammatory agents may provide localized relief. Examples include capsaicin cream, lidocaine patches, or NSAID creams.

Injections:

Administer orticosteroid injections directly into the affected area to reduce inflammation and provide pain relief. Trigger point injections may target specific muscle knots causing pain.

Nerve Blocks:

Injection of anesthetic or anti-inflammatory medication around a specific nerve or group of nerves can temporarily block pain signals.

Curious to see if you are healing? 

As a business coach, understanding somatic pain is helpful for guiding clients through challenges that extend beyond the realms of traditional coaching. Knowledge is a tool that can help our minds and bodies heal.

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