| One-Minute Clinician

Visceral vs Somatic Pain: The Differences

A visceral pain example is endometriosis:

  • Often affects the intraabdominal organs
  • Can be within the wall of the uterus, affecting the uterine wall
  • Can be in the pelvic peritoneum
  • Has the capability to invade organs, causing an overlap of symptoms
  • Can be in the peritoneal layer of the pelvis, and not necessarily invading muscle or ligaments or somatic organs
  • Can invade nerve roots and lead to neuropathic pain, however, and have a totally different descriptor. A key difference: the cyclical path of the symptoms, and how the symptoms present in a cyclical pattern

Another example: bladder pain syndrome, a condition that affects the bladder itself.

A somatic pain example. Myofascial pain:

  • Is basically a condition in which the muscles become very spastic
  • Patients become nonfunctional in a way that they will develop areas in which the muscles won’t be able to work well
  • Patients often refer to pain as a chronic sensation of a spasm or a cramping or a stabbing, which is clinically reproducible when an exam is done
  • When the abdominal wall muscle is checked, often found will be areas of trigger points or areas that are very sensitive upon palpitation

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