Pain may be one of the most common complaints of people, especially the elderly. Some feel pain in the head, leg, back and even the whole body. Some pain is felt constantly, some others come and go, depending on the cause. Pain management must pay attention to what causes it. The many types of pain medication should also be a concern for effective treatment.
What Causes Pain?
Pain is a feeling of discomfort that indicates that something is wrong with the body. The onset of pain always comes with health problems. What we need to know is the cause of the pain. When managing pain, you first need to identify the underlying condition that leads to the pain.
Pain is helpful to diagnose a health problem. If you never feel pain before, you may not know you have a specific problem that needs medical attention. There are five different types of pain depending on their appearance and cause, namely:
Acute pain occurs for a short time and suddenly, then disappears when the cause is resolved. Acute pain often results from certain injuries, illnesses, or medical procedures. Examples of causes of acute pain:
- Injuries: burns, sprains, fractures, abrasions, muscle cramps
- Diseases: sore throat, appendicitis, food poisoning
- Medical procedures: injections, dental treatment, surgery, childbirth
Chronic pain lasts a longer time, coming and going. Causes of chronic pain vary and include migraines, arthritis, nerve problems, back pain, and cancer.
Nociceptive pain results from tissue damage. For example, pain is caused by burns, bruising, or fractures. Certain diseases that cause inflammation and tissue damage can also cause pain, such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and osteoporosis. Nociceptive pain can be acute or chronic.
Neuropathic pain results from nerve damage that can be caused by injury or illness. Causes of neuropathic pain include multiple sclerosis, diabetes, herpes zoster, cancer, and muscle, joint, or bone injuries.
Functional pain is caused by unclear causes, which can be injury or damage to certain systems in the body. Examples of functional pain are fibromyalgia or whole-body pain, abdominal pain due to irritable bowel syndrome, and chest pain due to heart problems.
How to Manage Pain Properly?
Pain management should be done carefully and according to the cause. There is pain that can be treated without medication (non-medical/non-pharmacological) and also requires pain medication (medical/pharmacological). Good pain management needs to be specific to the needs. In general, pain management is designed to reduce pain and restore daily functions.
A doctor should be consulted for proper treatment of pain. Your doctor will perform a thorough examination to help you manage your pain properly. In addition, when treating pain, at the same time doctors can identify the cause and help develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Any pain needs to be treated for the activity to resume smoothly. The faster the treatment, the faster the pain will go away. If the cause is a serious illness, your doctor may treat you immediately to increase your chances of recovery.
Non-medicated pain management refers to drug-free pain management techniques. This method uses the mind, therapeutic methods, and pain management tools to relieve pain. For example:
The purpose of this therapy is to teach the patient to control or monitor symptoms, including:
- Hypnosis: The patient will be assisted to change their perception of pain by making positive suggestions
- Distraction: The patient’s attention is focused on the perception of pain, usually mild to moderate pain
- Guided imagery: The patient is directed to imagine things that are interesting or enjoyable to him/her
Depending on the cause of the pain, you may use a cold or warm compress. Cold compresses can help stop bleeding and swelling, and warm compresses can help relax muscles and improve blood circulation.
For certain aches and pains, massage can be used as a method of pain management that reduces muscle tension and relaxes the body.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
This method uses pain management tools that can stimulate the skin with an electric current. TENS is most commonly used in physical therapy or medical rehabilitation clinics.
Relaxation in pain management is performed by doing breathing exercises that aim to relax the muscles and reduce the stress that often manifests itself in pain.
Pain medications are often needed to relieve pain. Analgesics are especially important for severe or unbearable pain. There are several over-the-counter pain medications available at pharmacies, drugstores, and franchise stores. When buying these over-the-counter medications, be sure to pay attention to the side effects and contraindications listed on the pack.
There are two main types of over-the-counter painkillers: acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Acetaminophen or paracetamol only helps to reduce pain, while NSAIDs can control swelling and irritation at the same time.
Examples of NSAIDs are aspirin, naproxen, diclofenac, and ibuprofen. If these painkillers are not effective, you may ask your doctor for prescription medications with higher doses, such as tramadol, fentanyl, and oxycodone, which are included in the class of opioids.
Pain Management with Surgery
In some cases, medical procedures such as surgery are needed to relieve the pain. Surgery is often the last resort for pain relief when other treatments have failed or are impossible. Surgery is also often an option in cases of chronic pain. For example:
- Surgery to block or stop nerve signals from a source of pain to the brain
- Surgery to reduce the pressure on the spinal cord
- Surgery to eliminate painful nerve tissue
- Installation of an electrical stimulator to relieve spinal cord pain
Pain Management at Home
Pain can occur at any time due to unexpected events such as getting stuck walking around the house. With such mild pain, you can manage the pain on your own at home. One commonly used method is RICE or rest, ice, compression, elevation.
With this method, you should rest the area of the body that is causing the pain so it doesn’t get worse, use a cold washcloth or an ice pack to numb the sore spot, apply compresses to control swelling, and position the painful area higher than the rest of the body to reduce swelling.
You can also take over-the-counter painkillers and practice proper non-medicated pain management. If the pain does not go away after 72 hours of treatment, you should contact your doctor for better treatment.