Visceral pain occurs when pain receptors in the pelvis, abdomen, chest, or intestines are activated. We experience it when our internal organs and tissues are damaged or injured. Visceral pain is vague, not localized, and not well understood or clearly defined. It often feels like a deep squeeze, pressure, or pain.
Visceral pain is pain you feel in your internal organs, such as your stomach, bladder, uterus, or rectum. It is a type of nociceptive pain, meaning it is caused by medical conditions that cause inflammation, pressure, or injury. Pelvic pain caused by a bladder infection and abdominal pain caused by irritable bowel syndrome are types of visceral pain. Find downloadable tools to help you prepare for doctor visits.
Learn more about non-medical methods that can help control pain. Visceral pain may respond to pain medications, but there are considerations to consider and, in some cases, a more aggressive approach is needed. The pain referred to with or without hyperalgesia is more acute, is better localized and is less likely to be accompanied by autonomic signs and, therefore, is difficult to differentiate from pain of somatic origin. Visceral pain cannot be evoked in all viscera and there is often no relationship between internal injury and visceral pain.
NSAIDs, paracetamol and serotonergic compounds are other treatment options for a variety of visceral pain conditions with minimal and controlled studies, but generally none of these compounds are selective for visceral conditions and are also used to treat other forms of chronic pain (10). In some situations, chronic visceral pain can cause changes in sensation and, in fact, cause neuropathic pain. The internal organs do not have a high density of nociceptors like the skin does, and the mapping of pain in the brain is not detailed with respect to visceral pain. For example, heart pain may spread to the left arm and neck, bladder pain may be felt in the perineum, and a kidney infection may cause back pain.
Some people experience extreme visceral pain due to non-serious conditions, while others experience less pain than you would expect from something as serious as a heart attack. Most people have experienced pain in the internal organs, ranging from the mild discomfort of indigestion to the agony of renal colic, and women suffer from many forms of visceral pain associated with reproductive life. This convergence of visceral and somatic messages may be one of the reasons for the visceral pain that usually accompanies somatic pain conditions or vice versa. Unlike superficial pain, visceral pain tends to radiate from the initial location to affect other areas of the body as well, making the entire experience of pain more diffuse and unpleasant.
This referred pain is a key characteristic of visceral pain and is used by many doctors in the diagnosis of certain diseases. In addition, and less well-known, is that visceral pain also encompasses chronic chest pain and cramps. The recent increase in the interest of researchers and doctors in pain that originates in the internal organs reflects a major paradigm shift in awareness of the magnitude and impact of visceral pain disorders.