What is Pain Management?
Pain is more than just a feeling of discomfort. It can affect the way you feel overall. It may also lead to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. The amount of pain you experience can tell your doctor a lot about your overall health.
Acute pain happens suddenly, It usually tends to resolve within a few weeks, generally in a matter of days or weeks, but chronic pain is ongoing. Others say pain is regular when it lasts longer than six months.
Pain-relief methods range from at-home treatments and prescriptions to over-the-counter (OTC) medications and invasive procedures like surgery. Pain relief doesn’t usually happen overnight, but it can. Each person’s pain experience is unique to them.
Two main types of pain: Nociceptive and Neuropathic.
Nociceptive pain is a nervous system response that helps protect your body. It makes you pull your hand back from a hot stove so you don’t get burned. Pain from a sprained ankle forces you to rest and give the injury time to heal.
Neuropathic pain is different because it has no known benefits; it may result from misread signals between your nerves and brain or spinal cord. Or it could be because of nerve damage. Your brain interprets faulty signals from the nerves as pain.
OTC pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are available to buy without a doctor’s prescription, NSAIDs block substances called COX-1 and COX-2. They relieve pain related to inflammation. These drugs help conditions like headache, backache, muscle aches, arthritis, menstrual pain, sprains, and other minor injuries. Common NSAIDs include aspirin, Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve). Take only the amount of pain reliever recommended on the package. Using too many of these drugs can increase your risk of side effects. These can include kidney injury, excessive bleeding, stomach ulcers.
How pain affects the body?
Pain is a complex protective mechanism. It is an essential part of evolution that protects the body from danger and harm.
The body has pain receptors that are attached to two main types of nerves that detect danger. One nerve type relays messages quickly, causing sharp, sudden pain. The other relays messages slowly, causing a dull, throbbing pain.
Some areas of the body have more pain receptors than others. For example, the skin has lots of receptors, so it is easy to tell the exact location and type of pain. There are far fewer receptors in the gut, so it is harder to pinpoint a stomach ache’s precise location.
Suppose pain receptors in the skin are activated by touching something dangerous (for example, something hot or sharp). In that case, these nerves send alerts to the spinal cord and then to part of the brain called the thalamus.
Sometimes the spinal cord sends an immediate signal back to the muscles to make them contract. This moves the affected body part away from the source of danger or harm.
This is a reflex reaction that prevents further damage from occurring. It happens before you feel pain.
Once the ‘alert!’ message reaches the thalamus, it sorts the information the nerves have sent, taking into account your previous experience, beliefs, expectations, culture, and social norms. This explains why people have very different responses to pain.
The thalamus then sends the information to other parts of the brain linked to a physical response, thought, and emotion. This is when you may feel the sensation of pain, think, ‘That hurt! What was it?’, and I feel annoyed.
The thalamus also contributes to mood and arousal, which helps explain why your pain interpretation partly depends on your state of mind.
Many people will use pain medicine (analgesic) at some time in their lives.
The main types of pain medicines are:
Paracetamol – often recommended as the first medicine to relieve short-term pain.
Aspirin is for short-term relief of fever and mild-to-moderate pain (such as period pain or headache).
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen – these medicines relieve pain and reduce inflammation (redness and swelling).
Opioid medications, such as codeine, morphine, and oxycodone, are reserved for severe or cancer pain.
How pain medicines work
Pain medicines work in various ways. Aspirin and other NSAIDs are pain medicines that help to reduce inflammation and fever. They do this by stopping chemicals called prostaglandins. Prostaglandins cause inflammation, swelling and make nerve endings sensitive, which can lead to pain.
Prostaglandins also help protect the stomach from stomach acid, so these medicines can cause irritation and bleeding in some people.
Opioid medicines work differently. They change pain messages in the brain, which is why these medicines can be addictive.