6 Different Types of My Chronic Pain


Over the years, I’ve noticed several different kinds of pain, some while watching and getting to know others, some while experiencing them myself. People (mainly doctors and friends and family, sometimes acquaintances or even strangers) have asked me how my conditions feel many times.

Eventually, I put together a bit of a guide, a way for others to map out or understand how I’m currently doing, a quick “cheat sheet” based on a handful of key words (not always those in bold, although they help to make connections).

Here are the kinds I experience on a regular basis:

1. Stabbing – shooting and sudden pains mostly in my stomach, yet occasionally elsewhere (like my back, primarily due to scoliosis).

2. Prickling – everywhere, but usually in my shoulders and upper back. Occurs more after I take showers or if I haven’t for a while, for some reason. There’s crawling, too, which feels similar, only heavier, as if bugs are scurrying across my skin.

3. Tingling – a lot more painful than it sounds, stinging and lingering neuropathy, most often in hands/feet.

4. Numbness – deadened, highly uncomfortable, disconcerting feeling which frequently leads to/comes with stiffness/inability to move limbs.

5. Burning – largely in my eyes/throat, skin always feels dry, even when I’m
hydrated/sweating/in a relatively cool space (it’s difficult for my body to regulate temperature).

6. Rotting – deep, deep aching in my bones (now also teeth). This was how I
first described the pain in my legs to my primary care physician and neurologist, and to others when they would ask as, even though I knew it might be perceived as overly dramatic/descriptive, it was the only word that felt remotely accurate.

Everything aches, only to varying degrees. It’s always widespread, but differs and often abruptly, causing me to jerk sporadically (see myoclonic jerk) which sometimes makes for awkward conversation, with my then trying to explain the underlying pain, what went unseen and unfelt by someone else.

Even though this is just my experience, hopefully this helps give some idea, as to its variety, prevalence, and resulting severity.

What kind(s) do you experience? How would you describe it?

Getty Image by Fug4s


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Fibromyalgia

15 Signs You Have Fibro Fatigue and Aren't 'Just Tired'

15 Signs You Have Fibromyalgia Fatigue and Aren't 'Just Tired'

Most people know what it’s like to be really tired – maybe you’ve had a stressful week at work, pulled an all-nighter to study for an exam or even spent a fun-filled weekend with friends. The exhaustion and sleepiness can feel overwhelming, but for someone without chronic health challenges, it’s usually nothing a good night’s [...]
A picture of an old fashioned switchboard.

Explaining Fibromyalgia: The Switchboard Analogy

Having had fibromyalgia for 20 years, I’ve tried many ways to communicate its impact succinctly, so someone not experiencing it can quickly understand what it is and have an idea of how it feels. On many occasions I found myself pretty stumped in trying to come up with the goods. Or I’d feel like I [...]
A picture of green nature.

If People Are Trying to Invalidate Your Illness

Living with a chronic illness is challenging enough without others challenging your condition. Invalidation is never OK. I remember being undiagnosed sitting in my doctors office, listening to him tell me that all my symptoms could be just stress. I remember feeling like I wasn’t being taken seriously. My doctor didn’t believe that there was [...]
A woman looking at her computer, wearing a serious facial expression.

The Misperceptions About Fibromyalgia That Make It Hard to Get Disability Benefits

For Yolanda. When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I didn’t know much about it except that people with it were in pain. It was the “pain disease” in my mind. After doing my research, I realized that it affects people in more ways that just causing musculoskeletal pain throughout the body. Fibromyalgia can affect sleep, [...]