Hyperalgesia is an excessive sensitivity to painful
stimuli. One form of hyperalgesia is visceral
hyperalgesia, which is extreme sensitivity to something
painful in the viscera (internal organs), usually those of
the belly. Visceral hyperalgesia can also mean an
increased awareness of the normal movements of
internal organs, such as the intestines. Hyperalgesia is
syndrome, a disorder of the intestines with various
signs and symptoms, and no clear biological cause.
While hyperalgesia can occur in specific body parts, it can also be present throughout the
body. When hyperalgesia occurs in specific body parts, it has been divided into primary
and secondary types. In the primary type, increased pain sensitivity occurs directly in
damaged tissue. In the secondary type, increased pain sensitivity occurs in surrounding
undamaged tissues. Hyperalgesia can also be caused by long-term use of opioids, which
ironically, is medication used to treat chronic pain.
Although hyperalgesia can be a genuine physical problem, clinicians should be alert to the
possibility that a subjective report of increased sensitivity to pain may represent
exaggeration, particularly if the patient is seeking compensation for an injury or pursuing
litigation. Hyperalgesic and hyperalgetic means pertaining to hyperalgesia. Hyperalgesia
comes from the Greek word "hyper" meaning "above," and the Greek word "algos"
meaning "pain." Put the two together and you get "above pain," meaning too much pain.