Pain management is today’s modern approach to adequate pain relief. Strategies for managing pain include pain medication intake and doing physical and complementary therapies like acupuncture and massage. Research recommends that a person’s quality of life is influenced by their outlook and how they cope emotionally with pain.
Today, let us know more about pain management, how it works, and some techniques that work better for pain management. Read until the end and discover if these pain management techniques can also work for you.
Pain and Pain Management
Types of Pain
Before we talk about pain management, let us learn first about the two (2) main types of pain:
- Acute – is a normal pain response to an injury or medical condition. It starts suddenly and is usually short-lived.
- Chronic – is a type of pain that continues beyond the time expected for healing. It generally lasts for longer than three (3) months.
Furthermore, pain can range from mild, dull aches to extremely sharp stabs and from simple to severe. Pain may also be felt widely or in only one part of your body. The type of pain will determine what technique in pain management will be used for your body.
Strategies in Pain Management
Studies suggest that a person’s emotional well-being can impact the experience of pain. Understanding the cause and learning practical ways to cope with pain can improve your quality of life. Key pain management strategies include:
- community support groups
- mind and body techniques (acupuncture)
- pain medicines
- psychological therapies (cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques, meditation)
- physical therapies (cold and heat packs, exercise, massages, hydrotherapy)
Causes of Pain
Pain management will also include knowing the most common causes of pain in adults, which consists of the following:
- medical conditions (arthritis, back problems, cancer)
Pain and How It Affects Our Body
As a complex protective mechanism, pain is an essential part of evolution. It protects the body from danger and harm. The body has pain receptors attached to two (2) main types of nerves that detect threats. Single nerve types relay messages quickly, causing sharp, abrupt pain. Others relay messages slowly, causing dull, throbbing instances of pain.
Some areas of the body have lesser pain receptors, while others have more. If a pain receptor in the skin is activated by touching something dangerous, like something hot or sharp, the nerves immediately send alerts to our spinal cord, down to our brain’s thalamus.
The spinal cord sometimes sends immediate signals back to our muscles to make them contract. This step moves the affected body part away from the source of danger or harm. Then, reflex reactions prevent further damage from occurring. This instance happens before even feeling pain.
When the ‘alert!’ messages reach the thalamus, it sorts the information the nerves have sent, considering our previous experience, beliefs, expectations, culture, and social norms. This idea explains why people have very different responses to pain. The thalamus then sends the information to other brain parts linked to a physical reaction, thought, and emotion. Also, our brain’s thalamus contributes to our moods and arousal, helping explain why our pain interpretations partly depend on our state of mind and overall well-being.
Managing Pain Without Medicines
Several non-medicine treatments are available to help you in your pain management. Treatment and therapy combinations are often more effective than just one. Some non-medicine options include:
- Acupuncture – is a component of traditional Chinese medicine and is usually part of a pain management plan. This ancient practice involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on our skin. Acupuncture aims to restore our body’s balance and encourages it to heal by releasing natural pain-relieving compounds or endorphins. Others find acupuncture to reduce the pain’s severity, enabling them to maintain proper functionality. However, further research on the effectiveness of acupuncture in managing pain is still needed, and current ones are inconclusive.
- Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) – is a form of psychological therapy that can help change our thinking. In turn, CBT also affects how we feel and behave about pain. This typical pain management component is valuable for learning to self-manage chronic pain.
- Heat or cold – are techniques in pain management that use ice packs right after injuries to help significantly reduce swelling. Furthermore, heat packs are better for relieving chronic muscle or joint injuries.
- Massages – are physical therapy techniques; these pain management procedures are better suited for soft tissue injuries. In addition, experts say you should avoid massages if the pain is in the joints. Some evidence recommends massages to help manage pain possibly. However, it is not suggested as a long-term therapy.
- Physical therapies include aerobic exercises and simple activities like walking, stretching, and strengthening. These activities help reduce pain, keep you mobile, and improve your mood. You should increase your training very slowly to avoid overdoing it.
- Relaxation and techniques in stress management – including meditation and yoga, are staples in pain management plans.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy uses low-voltage electrical currents that pass through our skin through electrodes, prompting pain-relieving responses from our body. Although, there is not enough published evidence to support the use of TENS in treating chronic pain cases. But there are people with chronic pain that are unresponsive to other treatments. They may experience a benefit from this pain management technique.
Moreover, your doctor or other healthcare professionals can guide you through the best treatments.
Many people will use pain medicine as part of their pain management, or what they call ‘analgesics,’ at some time in their lives. The main types of pain medicines are:
- Aspirin – is used for short-term relief from fever to mild-to-moderate pain like period pain or headache.
- Local anesthetics (drops, sprays, creams, or injections) – used when medication can easily reach nerves.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs – are medicines that relieve pain and help reduce inflammation, such as redness and swelling. Ibuprofen is the best example of an NSAID.
- Paracetamol – is often recommended as the first medicine to relieve short-term pain.
- Opioid medicines, such as codeine, morphine, and oxycodone – are reserved for severe or cancer pain.
- Some antidepressants and anti-epilepsy medicines – are used for a specific type of pain called nerve pain.
Pain management and the techniques that work better for your plan greatly depend on your specific issues and concerns. The best thing you can do is to consult your doctor or practitioner to learn more.
If you want to undergo pain management, our amazing friends at Health and Wellness Medical Services can help you today.