-1

Are there "good kinds" of pain?

Pain is usually bad, but are some kinds of pain "good" compared to others?

I got this idea from a House episode -- season 2's "Euphoria". Foreman's father visits Foreman and asks if he is in pain. Foreman responds, "it's the good kind". I have been wondering what "good kind" means. I can only assume that it means there is a somewhat pleasant feeling.

Is "the good kind of pain" a medical term? What does it mean?

1
  • 2
    Welcome to MedicalSciences.SE! Please take the tour and read the help center. What books have you read, or internet searching have you tried to answer your question? Please help us to help you and edit your question to provide more information on what you have read on this subject, what made you are ask this question, and any problems you are having understanding your research. If you need help, you can view our How to Ask page. Thanks Sep 20 '18 at 11:57
5

"Good kind of pain" is not a precisely defined medical term, but the concept is certainly a familiar one on several levels.

Pain is an incredibly complex phenomenon that indeeds needs dissection for analysis.

Depending on definitions there are a few kinds of "good pain" indeed. If you eat capsaicin your pain receptors get stimulated and after getting used to it you even start to enjoy the right dose of pain (even if it is in reality only your appreciation for your bodies response to those fake pains).
A similar response can be observed in cutting as a symptom of mental disorder or conscious body modification, or in certain techniques found in BDSM aficionados.
In all those cases one might argue that pain perception at the neurological level as such is really irrelevant and the psychological interpretation dominates the experience, which is then obviously found "good" by the participant.

Apart from philosophical considerations of what is "good" or "bad" you might also look at it from a biological, evolutionary or physiological functions perspective. What is useful is "good". How can pain be useful?

It keeps people from doing dangerous things. Alas, not from doing stupid things. But in sports there is for example the adage "no pain, no gain". This is often executed in a detrimental manner but hints at a connection to observe:

How to Tell the Difference Between Good and Bad Pain
What is good pain? One of the most common forms of “good pain” is what doctors and physiotherapists may refer to as delayed onset muscle soreness,” or DOMS. It happens when you’ve challenged a muscle with something it’s not used to (new, returning or increased exercise). Within one to two days, you’ll start to feel soreness in the area and it may be tender to touch. But, it goes away quickly after that.

The pain comes from micro trauma in the muscle caused by rigorous exercise. But that’s not a bad thing. A muscle gets stronger, building denser tissue, when it has a reason to remodel itself. When it senses the tiny trauma, the muscle repairs tissue to allow for more endurance. The key here is the “micro” part of “trauma.”

(You need to compare that with 'Good Pain' Versus 'Bad Pain' for Athletes)

And most importantly, our conscious minds are often quite bad of arriving at the right conclusion through reason alone. The more basic snsation of 'pain' can be quite a good signal telling us what to do: nothing. Keep at rest when you are ill.

The anesthesiologist explained that during surgery and recovery I would be given strong painkillers, but once I got home the pain would not require narcotics. To paraphrase him, he said: “Pain is a part of life. We cannot eliminate it nor do we want to. The pain will guide you. You will know when to rest more; you will know when you are healing. If I give you Vicodin, you will no longer feel the pain, yes, but you will no longer know what your body is telling you. You might overexert yourself because you are no longer feeling the pain signals. All you need is rest. And please be careful with ibuprofen. It’s not good for your kidneys. Only take it if you must. Your body will heal itself with rest.”

The episode of that series might therefore refer to pain associated with diagnosed illness, associated with healing, not that strong and about to end soon.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.