Pain is a symptom that is often annoying, however it is one of the main protective mechanisms that we have.
Feeling pain puts us on alert against a threat and prompts us to take action. This is how the pain in the face of an injury causes a reflex movement to occur immediately that moves the affected part of the body away from the source of the damage, preventing a greater injury from occurring.
Pain is a very complex symptom, which can be classified in various ways. In this article we will focus on describing the pain that affects the whole body or a large part of it globally.
Pain can affect a specific area or region, which is related to localized damage, however it is possible that it affects several structures simultaneously, becoming called generalized pain.
It is a pain that affects both the trunk and the extremities and structures of the head simultaneously. Generalized pain can be acute, when it lasts from a few days to about 3 months, or chronic pain when it persists for more than 3 months.
Causes of widespread pain
There are several conditions that can lead to widespread pain. They are described below.
Some microorganisms have a replication cycle that takes place in the muscles, once they multiply, they break the cells to leave the blood and reach new cells to continue this cycle.
When muscle cells break, substances are released that activate the inflammation process, which also stimulates the nerve fibers that carry painful stimuli to the brain.
Infections that cause widespread pain are usually caused by viruses. The most frequent are those due to Dengue virus, Chikungunya virus, Zika virus and Mayaro virus. They are viruses of the arbovirus family that are transmitted by vectors (mosquitoes infected with some of these viruses).
Joints can be affected by various disorders. Injuries such as trauma, infection or overuse affect one or a few joints, however there are conditions that can affect several joints simultaneously.
Osteoarthritis is one of these conditions. It is a degenerative disorder that affects 80% of those over 65 years of age, in which there is wear and tear of the articular cartilage that leads to its erosion. This causes symptoms such as pain and trach when making movements. There are several forms of osteoarthritis, some are localized, but there is also a generalized form.
Another joint disease that can cause widespread pain is rheumatoid arthritis. It is an inflammatory and autoimmune disorder that begins in youth or in the young adult stage, this disease affects the structures that make up the joint, leading to their destruction. In this case the generalized pain is aggravated by rest.
Fibromyalgia and central sensitization syndrome
Fibromyalgia is a condition in which there is an alteration in the perception of painful stimuli by the brain, which leads the person to feel pain throughout the body, mainly at the level of the muscles.
This disease is related to the presence of decreased levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter related to moods, its decrease produces depression, this substance is also an important messenger in the transmission of signals at the level of pain pathways.
Chemical changes in brain transmitters present in people affected by this condition also lead to the development of phenomena such as allodynia, in which a tactile stimulus that is not normally bothersome is perceived as pain, as is hyperalgesia manifested as an exacerbation in the intensity of perceived pain.
These phenomena are not exclusive to fibromyalgia. They are part of the so-called central sensitization syndromes of which fibromyalgia is a part.
Central sensitization occurs when an injury occurs that affects a structure of the nervous system, mainly a peripheral nerve. This leads to the pain signal being "released" from the regulatory mechanisms of the pain signal transmission that normally turn off these signals by limiting the duration of pain. This results in a constant transmission of a painful signal in the absence of a stimulus or because that produces it.
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