Pain is an unpleasant feeling or discomfort caused by injury, illness or emotional disorder.
Pain can be differentiated into two basic types including:
- Acute Pain: It results from disease, inflammation, or injury. This type of pain starts suddenly, for example, after accidental trauma or surgery.
- Chronic Pain: It is caused by a disease itself. Both environmental and psychological factors can worsen it. It persists for a longer period of time.
Pain can be felt as a result of several causes including:
- Injuries to various parts of the body
- Diseases such as arthritis, cancer and heart attack
- Child birth
- Various surgeries such as amputation
- Infections and trauma
- Inflammatory conditions such as bursitis
- Tension and stress
There are various diagnostic techniques used to find the cause of pain, and some of them include:
- Electromyography (EMG) helps to find out which muscles or nerves are affected by weakness or pain
- Nerve conduction studies determine if there is any nerve damage
- Evoked potential (EP) is used to record the speed of nerve signals sent to the brain
- Imaging tests such as X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) differentiate diseased and healthy tissues.
- A neurological examination involves testing for movement, reflexes, sensation, balance, and coordination
Pain management is mainly focused on alleviating your pain and enabling you to carry out day to day activities. Pain can be treated in a variety of ways and depends on the type of pain being experienced by the patient.
Some of the most common treatments used for effective pain management include:
Use of medications such as analgesics, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, narcotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs may be sold over-the-counter or be prescribed by your doctor.
Anesthesia is ideally used during invasive and non-invasive diagnostic and treatment procedures. It includes general, regional and local anesthesia, and sedatives.
Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation(RICE) helps relieve joint and muscle pains such as sprains and strains.
It is a procedure that uses electrical signals to stimulate nerves and the brain, in order to block pain transmission. They include peripheral nerve stimulation, spinal cord stimulation and intra-cerebral stimulation.
Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation
Massage and manipulation are often prescribed to restore function, control pain and speed up recovery.
This method is used to treat headaches and back ache. In this method, an electronic machine is used to train you to be aware of and have control over certain body functions such as muscle tension, skin temperature and heart rate, and change your response to pain with certain techniques such as relaxation.
The technique involves the insertion of fine needles at specific points of the body to stimulate the body’s energy flow.
It is a hands-on method of treating back pain, musculoskeletal conditions and neck pain. It involves adjusting the coordination between the structure and function of the different parts.
Exercise is also a widely prescribed treatment for the reduction of pain. Simple exercises such as walking and swimming help to improve blood supply and oxygen to the muscles, and release endorphins, chemicals that reduce the perception of pain.
Apart from these direct methods, pain management also includes treating the underlying condition that is causing the pain. Cognitive-behavioural therapy and counselling helps you to cope with pain and learn techniques such as relaxation and imagery to distract your mind from pain.