Expressions for pain in English

Easterner   Thursday, October 28, 2004, 15:26 GMT
I sometimes get uncertain over how to refer to pain in various body parts in English. Not that I need it much for myself, but sometimes I have to report physical conditions in English as part of my job. So I have made some rules concerning which expression to use in what case, and would like to check them for correctness. So here they are:

"ache" - perhaps the most common, can be a verb or a noun, refers to a continuous, often pulsating sensation of pain, especially as a result of inflammation, tension or psychosomatic cause (headache, earache, bellyache, backache, etc.).
"hurt" - verb, used for the result of violent physical contact between
the body and another object (a hit, a bruise, a penetration of any sort, heat, etc.), and also a hot surface. And you also use "hurt" for emotional pain, too.
"sore" - adjective for an intense, burning pain caused by irritation or inflammation (sore eye, sore throat, etc).

However, what do you use for the pain caused by a fractured bone? Do you say your leg "hurts" after e.g. too much walking, or does it "ache"? How about frost damage (my guess is you use "hurt" here, too)? Comments are much appreciated.
Tiffany   Thursday, October 28, 2004, 16:02 GMT
Hmm, I think I would refer to a fractured bone as sharp pain. Ex. Fractured bone ("I feel such a sharp pain anytime I move my leg that I can't (don't want to) walk." Frost damage is a little more complicated.

Cold is a little more complicated because I don't know exactly what frost damage entails. I know when one immerses themselves in very cold water or slides on ice that they feel sharp pains, but when they have frostbite, it's more associated with numbness. So "My fingers (substitue limb/appendage here) feel very numb."

I'd rule out aches for either of these conditions. An ache is just not strong enough to describe the pain of a fracture and not the right sympton for frost damage.
Toasté   Thursday, October 28, 2004, 16:39 GMT
This is kind of interesting... I have some thoughts to share:

"Tenderness" is the kind of pain that you only feel when you touch or manipulate the body. This might be the kind of pain you get with a sprain, that is relatively low when you stay still but becomes stronger when you move around.

"Discomfort" is the kind of pain that doesn't really affect your life very much, but you notice it and you would rather not have it. Something like when you have a 'kink' in your back or a bit of a 'crick' in your neck.

In my understanding, an "ache" is more of a generalized kind of pain, that you can trace to a general part of the body but not to a specific point on it.

"Soreness" is more intense and can be assigned to a specific part of the body. I don't think of soreness as being an acute kind of pain, however.

Pulsating pain would also be "Throbbing Pain", which is also sometimes used to describe headaches. "Dull Pain" is also used for lower level pain of this kind".

"Stinging Pain" would be a sharp pain concentrated in a very small area that hurts a lot and then dissipates (a bit like a bee sting).

I don't think of "hurt" as applying to a specific kind of pain, it it is a more general description of how a lot of different kinds of pain feel to someone.