Pain and its Types, Causes & Pain Management – How You Treat It

When impulses from nerve cells are sent to the brain to be interpreted, people experience pain. It often results from tissue damage and enables the body to respond and stop harm. Every individual experiences pain differently, and there are numerous ways to perceive and communicate suffering. It can occasionally be difficult to define and treat pain due to this diversity. Long-term or temporary, localized or generalized, there are many different types of pain.

Cause:

The spinal cord, a vital part of the body, is responsible for transmitting pain signals to the brain. When nociceptors detect tissue injury, they signal the brain about the damage, causing pain. For example, touching a hot surface can trigger a reflex arc in the spinal cord, causing muscle contraction and preventing further harm.

The brain’s response to pain depends on how it interprets these signals and communicates with the nociceptors. Additionally, the brain may release feel-good chemicals like dopamine to counteract pain.

Acute Pain and Chronic Pain

There are two kinds of pain. Acute pain begins suddenly, lasts for a short time, and goes away as your body heals. You might feel acute pain after surgery or if you have a broken bone, infected tooth, or kidney stone.

Pain that lasts for 3 months or longer is called chronic pain. This pain often affects older people. For some people, chronic pain is caused by a health condition such as arthritis. It may also follow acute pain from an injury, surgery, or other health issue that has been treated, like post-herpetic neuralgia after shingles.

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Living with any type of pain can be hard. It can cause many other problems. For instance, pain can:

  • Get in the way of your daily activities
  • Disturb your sleep and eating habits
  • Make it difficult to continue working
  • Be related to depression or anxiety
  • Keep you from spending time with friends and family.

Medicines to Treat Pain

Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following pain medications. Talk with your doctor about their safety and the right dose to take.

Acetaminophen: may help all types of pain, especially mild to moderate pain. Acetaminophen is found in over-the-counter and prescription medicines. People who have more than three drinks per day or who have liver disease should not take acetaminophen.

Nonsteroidal: anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen. Long-term use of some NSAIDs can cause side effects, like internal bleeding or kidney problems, which make them unsafe for many older adults. You may not be able to take ibuprofen if you have high blood pressure.

Narcotics: (also called opioids) are used for moderate to severe pain and require a doctor’s prescription. They may be habit-forming. They can also be dangerous when taken with alcohol or certain other drugs. Examples of narcotics are codeine, morphine, and oxycodone.

Other medications: are sometimes used to treat pain. These include antidepressants, anticonvulsant medicines, local painkillers like nerve blocks or patches, and ointments and creams.

What Other Treatments Help with Pain?

In addition to drugs, there are a variety of complementary and alternative approaches that may provide relief. Talk to your doctor about these treatments. It may take both medicine and other treatments to feel better.

  • Acupuncture uses hair-thin needles to stimulate specific points in the body to relieve pain.
  • Biofeedback helps you learn to control your heart rate, blood pressure, muscle tension, and other body functions. This may help reduce your pain and stress levels.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of short-term counseling that may help reduce your reaction to pain.
  • Distraction can help you cope with acute pain, taking your mind off your discomfort.
  • Electrical nerve stimulation uses electrical impulses to relieve pain.
  • Guided imagery uses directed thoughts to create mental pictures that may help you relax, manage anxiety, sleep better, and have less pain.
  • Hypnosis uses focused attention to help manage pain.
  • Massage therapy can release tension in tight muscles.
  • Mind-body stress reduction combines mindfulness meditation, body awareness, and yoga to increase relaxation and reduce pain.
  • Physical therapy uses a variety of techniques to help manage everyday activities with less pain and teaches you ways to improve flexibility and strength.
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Cancer Pain

Some people with cancer are more afraid of the pain than of the cancer. But most pain from cancer or cancer treatments can be controlled. As with all pain, it’s best to start managing cancer pain early. It might take a while to find the best approach.

One special concern in managing cancer pain is “breakthrough pain.” This is a pain that comes on quickly and can take you by surprise. It can be very upsetting. After one attack, many people worry it will happen again. This is another reason to talk with your doctor about having a pain management plan in place.

Alzheimer’s Disease and Pain

People who have Alzheimer’s disease may not be able to tell you when they’re in pain. When you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, watch for clues. A person’s face may show signs of being in pain or feeling ill. You may see a person frequently changing position or having trouble sleeping. You may also notice sudden changes in behavior such as increased agitation, crying, or moaning. Refusing to eat may be a sign that the person has tooth pain or other oral health issues. It’s important to find out if there is something wrong. If you’re not sure what to do, call the doctor for help.

Some Facts About Pain

  1. Most people don’t have to live with pain. There are pain treatments. While not all pain can be cured, most pain can be managed. If your doctor has not been able to help you, ask to see a pain specialist.
  2. The side effects of pain medicine are often manageable. Side effects from pain medicine like constipation, dry mouth, and drowsiness may be a problem when you first begin taking the medicine. These problems can often be treated and may go away as your body gets used to the medicine.
  3. Your doctor will not think you’re a sissy if you talk about your pain. If you’re in pain, tell your doctor so you can get help.
  4. If you use pain medicine now, it will still work when you need it later. Using medicine at the first sign of pain may help control your pain later.
  5. Pain is not “all in your head.” No one but you know how your pain feels.

Helping Yourself:

  • There are things you can do yourself that might help you feel better. Try to:
  • Keep a healthy weight. Putting on extra pounds can slow healing and make some pain worse. A healthy weight might help with pain in the knees, back, hips, or feet.
  • Be physically active. Pain might make you inactive, which can lead to more pain and loss of function. Activity can help.
  • Get enough sleep. It can reduce pain sensitivity, help healing, and improve your mood.
  • Avoid tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol. They can get in the way of treatment and increase pain.
  • Join a pain support group. Sometimes, it can help to talk to other people about how they deal with pain. You can share your thoughts while learning from others

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