What Is Pain?
Pain is an unpleasant sensation, which a person feels due to tissue damage or any other injury. It is an emotional experience and allows the body to prevent any more damage. Though unpleasant, it serves a crucial purpose in protecting people from more significant dangers. For instance, when a person accidentally touches a hot surface, the instant and painful reaction teaches them to avoid that situation in the future.
People experience pain when a signal from the nerve fibers travel to the brain. Everyone experiences pain, but despite being one of the most common things for which people seek medical attention, it is still the most misunderstood medical condition.
One of the reasons behind the ineffective treatment of this condition is that every person experiences the same painful event differently. One’s experience might significantly differ from another’s, and this variation makes it more of a challenge to define and treat the condition.
There are different varieties of pain; it can be short-term or long term; it can spread around the body or stay in a single spot. All of this has to do with the cause of this condition.
What Are The Different Types Of Pains?
There are several types of pains, and each has different causes. All these pains come under eight different categories for facilitating with pain management.
A person can experience these pains suddenly, and they last only for a short period. The reason for these kinds of pain is usually an injury, a broken bone, burn, cut, surgery, or other similar things.
When pain persists for longer than six months, then it is known as chronic pain. These start as acute pain but then continue long after the treatment of the initial cause. Some of the conditions that might be responsible for this condition include:
- Circulation problems
A person can experience this in the form of tenderness, aching, or discomfort in the bones all the time. It is usually associated with health issues that affect the structure or function of bones, like cancer, broken bones, leukemia, sickle cell anemia, infection, osteoporosis, or mineral deficiency.
It is a short but severe burst of pain that a person who already has chronic pain can experience. The most common conditions responsible for it are fibromyalgia, cancer, and arthritis. This pain can manifest while doing exercise or physical activity or during illness, coughing, or the period between pain the doses of pain medication.
It is a result of nerve damage or inflammation. People typically describe this pain as a sharp, stabbing, shooting, or burning feeling. It is also known as neuropathic pain, and for some, it manifests as an electric shock.
This pain can disrupt a person’s life and interfere with their sleep, work, and physical activity levels. People with chronic nerve pain are also at a higher risk of developing psychological conditions like anxiety and depression. Causes for this condition include:
- Limb amputation
- Injury to the brain or the spinal cord
- Multiple sclerosis
- Diabetes, etc.
Soft Tissue Pain
The damage or inflammation of the ligaments, tissues, or muscles can result in this kind of pain. Swelling or bruising often accompanies it. Some of the common causes include:
- Sports injures like sprains or strains
- Rotator cuff injury
- Temporomandibular joint syndrome
- Bursitis, etc.
The pain that feels like is originating from one place while, in actuality, something else is the cause of the pain, is known as referred pain. A primary example of this is the pain caused by a heart attack. It feels like the pain is originating from the neck, left shoulder, and down the right arm.
It can happen due to the brain misinterpreting the single of pain from one part of the body and attributing the effect to another region. The reason behind this misunderstanding is the network of interconnecting sensory nerves that supply many different tissues.
It is the feeling that comes from a body part that is no longer there. People who had their limb amputated often report experiencing this kind of pain. It is different from phantom limb sensation as that is typically painless.
Earlier, the doctors believed that this is a psychological problem, but now they know that sensations are real and originate in the spinal cord and the bran. Managing this condition can be a difficult task for some people, but with time these symptoms gradually get better.
How To Manage The Pain?
There are different ways to manage the pain. The methods of pain management depend on the type of issue a person is facing. Treatment differs for acute and chronic pain. One should consult their doctor if they experience it to seek a proper remedy.
Acute Pain Management
Doctors usually prescribe medications for treating this condition. These medicines include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and opioids.
These are available as over the counter drugs and help a person regain their normal functioning. The low strength version of these drugs are available without a prescription, and for more potent variation, a person will require a prescription.
These medications are useful in relieving pain due to swelling. These are some side effects associated with its use, including digestive system problems. Therefore, people should be cautious while using these drugs.
These medications help treat more severe acute pains that result from burns, bone fracture, cancer, or surgery. Doctors only prescribe them for a short-period as these drugs can lose their effectiveness over time, and there is also a risk of addiction associated with them. Due to the potential for abuse, opioid pain medications are only available as prescription drugs.
Chronic Pain Management
Along with the medications, doctors can also recommend some other procedures to help a person cope with the symptoms of chronic pain. These alternate therapies include:
Psychotherapy – Chronic pain can affect the ability to work and enjoy everyday activities. Doctors recommend this therapy to help a person with the emotional side of ongoing pain.
Relaxation therapies – These include meditation, yoga, massage therapy, hypnosis, and other distraction techniques. These procedures help relax a person and distract their mind from the feeling of pain.
Heat and cold – applying heat or cold substance on the region affected by pain can help relieve the sensation. People can use either of these depending on the cause of the pain. An ice pack works for pain caused by an injury, and people with muscle strain will find the heat more comforting.
Surgery – There are specific nerves, brain, spine surgeries that a doctor can recommend for treating chronic pain. These include decompression, electrical deep brain and spinal cord stimulation procedures, and rhizotomy.
Nerve blocks – These blockers come in the form of injection, which can numb a group of nerves that can be the reason behind the pain in a specific body part.
Acupuncture – In this procedure, a practitioner will insert needles at specific pressure points that may result in a reduction of pain. Though there are conclusive studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of this therapy, some people reported having a positive experience after going through this procedure.