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July 2016

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While pain is a relative sensation, one thing is certain: At some point in their lives, all people will experience some form of pain. Pain is one sensation that is universal. Interestingly, experts say that pain is more than just a neural transmission and sensory transduction. Rather, many believe it is a complex mixture of emotions, culture, experience and more.

Types of Pain

There are two types of pain:

Acute pain is the type that occurs briefly and intensely after trauma. The pain felt after stubbing your toe or cutting your finger while chopping vegetables is considered acute pain. Many people describe acute pain as feeling “sharp.”

Chronic pain Examples of chronic pain include back pain, arthritis pain and cancer pain. Neuropathic pain, pain that is present when the body’s nervous system is not working properly, is also considered chronic pain.

Sources of Pain: Areas of the Body

Some areas of the body are more of a source of pain than others. These areas include:

  • The Back: More than 26 million people between the ages of 20 and 64 report chronic back pain.
  • The Head: More than 25 million people suffer from migraines.
  • The Wrists and Other Joints: One in six people suffers from some form of arthritis.
  • The Science of Pain

While pain is a relatively basic sensation, the way in which the body feels pain is actually quite complex. In order for a person to feel pain, his nervous system must first respond to the stimulus that is the source of the pain.

The nerves that sense pain and transmit pain signals are called nociceptors. In response to pain, the nociceptors transmit electrical signals to your spinal column, which transmits the message to your brain. If the source of pain gets stronger, the nociceptors will fire more rapidly, causing an increase in the pain a person experiences. When the stimulus is gone, the receptors stop firing pain signals.

The type of pain that a person feels is dependent on the type of nerve fiber that sends the initial signal of pain. For example, intense, unbearable pain may result when constant signals are sent to smaller fibers of the brain.

Identifying the Source of Pain:

One of the ways that doctors can find the source of pain is to perform a fluoroscopy, a type of X-ray that allows doctors to see internal organs and body structures in motion. Other tests doctors may perform to identify the cause of pain include:

  • Computerized Axial Tomographic (CAT) scan
  • Electromyography (EMG) test
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
  • Of course, your doctor may also wish to perform exploratory surgery in order to pinpoint the cause of your pain.
  • Finding the Source of Pain

Often, when people feel pain in a certain part of the body, they believe that area of the body has been injured. However, it is important to know that simply because you feel pain in one area does not mean that you have been injured or infected in that area.

For example, a herniated disc in a person’s back can cause the person to feel pain extending down his leg. For this reason, especially with chronic pain, it is important to first identify the source of pain in order to establish an effective pain treatment plan. Once the source of the pain has been discovered, the cause of the pain can be treated, thus helping to eliminate or reduce pain.

Sometimes the source of the pain cannot be treated or removed from the body. In other cases, doctors simply cannot find the source of the pain. In these instances, doctors often prescribe pain medication to sufferers or offer advice on pain management options, including physical therapy, massage and acupuncture.

While uncomfortable at best and excruciating at worst, pain is actually a natural, informative sensation associated with the body’s defense system. When we experience pain, our bodies are sending our nervous systems and brains messages that parts of the body are injured or are in harm’s way.

As a result, pain signals us to repair injured parts or treat conditions that are detrimental to our health. The type of pain you sense depends not only on the part of your body that is injured, but it also varies based on how seriously you have injured yourself.

Because some types of pain arise from chronic, incurable conditions, these patients can only find ways to manage their condition and reduce their pain, rather than to cure it entirely. Depending on the source of pain, patients have a variety of options for managing their pain.

For example, while people who have torn ligaments in their knees may take pain medication when their knees cause them pain, cancer patients going through chemotherapy may be prescribed medical marijuana to ease the nausea and other painful symptoms associated with this treatment.

In this section, we will lay out various methods of pain management. Our articles describe which pain management techniques are best and least suited for different types of conditions and injuries.

Addressing the Source

Although the source of pain may be easy to identify and treat, at other times, pain may feel diffuse and generalized, making it hard for you to figure out what the exact cause of your pain is. If you are having trouble understanding what is making you experience pain, consult your doctor for a thorough examination.

When diagnosing your source of pain, your doctor will not only ask you about your personal and family medical history, but he will also ask you how the pain feels (i.e. achy, sharp, burning, etc.) and how long you have been experience this type of pain. After these questions, your doctor will likely perform a series of tests that vary based on the suspected source of pain.

Symptomatic Relief

If a source of pain is incurable, then doctors will focus treatment on relieving the painful symptoms of the underlying condition. The methods of symptomatic relief that your doctor recommends will depend on the condition itself that is the source of pain. For example, while those suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome may need to wear a brace, see a physical therapist and possibly get cortisone shots, others suffering from arthritis will have to take it easy and take pain medication when their condition flares up.

Be sure to see your doctor if you experience any changes in your condition or symptoms so that he or she can advise you on the correct methods of symptomatic relief.

Misuse and Addiction

Along with making lifestyle changes, taking pain medications is a common way in which people manage and reduce their pain. In general, pain medications, also known as analgesics, target the nervous system to reduce the sensation of pain. Occasionally, some pain medication contains anti-inflammatory agents that help reduce swelling if that is the source of pain.

However, while pain medications are effective at relieving serious discomfort, the prescription varieties can also be highly addictive. Codeine, morphine and oxycodone are all generic types of pain medication that have been associated with misuse and addiction.

Pain is a universal sensation that affects people of all ages, genders and ethnicities. While some types of pain are emotional, such as humiliation, others are physical. Within these distinctions, pain can be even more varied. Some of the various types of pain people can experience include:

  • Burning
  • Dull aches
  • Sharpness
  • Stinging
  • Tingling.

In addition to the type of pain that you feel, your doctor may also want to know the level of pain that you are experiencing. Following is a common scale that medical professionals and patients use in the diagnosis of pain:

Level of Pain Description
0-1 No pain
2-3 Slight pain
4-5 Uncomfortable to fair pain
6-7 Distressing to harsh pain
8-9 Strong to very serious pain
10 Intolerable pain

The type of pain you feel, as well as the length of time you experience the pain, depends on the area of the body you injure, as well as the degree to which you injure it. For instance, while a paper cut on your finger will cause immediate sharp and stinging pain that quickly subsides, carpal tunnel syndrome in your wrists causes persistent dull and achy pain that can last anywhere from a few days to months on end.

As a result, treatments for pain and methods of pain management vary widely based on the type of pain you feel. For the most minor cases of pain, you may take an aspirin, apply an analgesic cream to the affected area or just put up with the pain until it subsides. In more severe cases of pain, people may take prescription pain medication, get acupuncture or even undergo surgery.

In this section, we will discuss the various types of pain. Our articles will highlight the causes and symptoms of different levels of pain, including information on associated treatments and prevention techniques that will help you effectively overcome pain.

Chronic Pain

While chronic pain traditionally refers to any type of pain that persists for at least six months, in recent decades, doctors classify chronic pain as any type of pain that lasts longer than the normal period of natural healing. When diagnosing chronic pain, doctors not only ask patients the type of pain they feel and how long they have experienced it, but they also factor in how the patient’s mind impacts the interpretation and perception of his or her own pain.

For example, those who suffer from chronic pain are disposed to developing depression as their pain affects their mobility and hinders them from enjoying daily activities. As a result, patients with both chronic pain and depression are likely to heal more slowly from their pain due to the fact that depression can have detrimental physiological effects on the body.

Chronic pain can arise from the presence of a disease, from an injury or from normal wear and tear on the body that takes a physical toll on the body as you age. While some types of chronic pain can be effectively treated so that the patient no longer suffers, other cases are lifelong conditions that can only be managed to reduce the affects of the chronic pain. Whether or not your condition is treatable or merely manageable depends on the source of your chronic pain.

Acute Pain

Acute pain is a type of pain that occurs immediately, tends to be sharp and intense and persists a relatively short period of time. Typically, acute pain subsides quickly because the source of the pain is ephemeral.

For example, getting a paper cut will cause acute pain that subsides within about 30 seconds of the initial injury. Taking aspirin, using an analgesic cream or just bearing through the pain are general ways in which people treat acute pain.

Once you have decided to get help for panic attacks, your treatment will consist of various therapies – either medical, psychological, alternative or a mixture of them. In the meanwhile, there are many things you can do at home to help the process along. It is also worth trying the following before you seek treatment from experts – these changes in lifestyle may be all you need to know about how to overcome a panic attack.

Alcohol, caffeine and illegal drugs can be triggers for panic attacks and anxiety disorders as well as make the symptoms worse. Your first step should be to avoid these stimulants in order for your body to be able to regain its natural equilibrium.

Relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, breathing exercises and guided visualization are a vital part of many treatment processes. Don’t dismiss them as new wave theories as they have been proven to work wonders in learning how to deal with panic attack symptoms as well as preventing a full blown attack if you feel the beginning of one.

Sleep is an important part of treatment regimes. Unfortunately, a lot of people who suffer from panic attacks and anxiety disorders also have disrupted sleep patterns. If you are worried about something, it is difficult to get a good night’s sleep but when our bodies are tired and our minds don’t get the benefit of the restoration quality sleep brings, then we are much more vulnerable to panic attacks. Our physical and mental defences are down and we are more prone to diseases and conditions.

Make sure you drink the required amount of water every day – most experts agree that this means a minimum of 8 glasses daily. If we are dehydrated, our bodies react by releasing chemicals into the bloodstream which lead to anxiety.

We are what we eat. This is true for everybody but even more so if you suffer from panic attacks. There are foods which are alkaline – tomatoes, avocadoes and green vegetables – and there foods which are acidic – sweets, alcohol, saturated fats, meats, dairy products etc. A diet comprising 80% alkaline foods and 20% acidic ones is considered ideal for maintaining an optimal Ph level which in turn affects everything the body does – in fact, if the Ph level is not slightly alkaline it cannot assimilate the vitamins and minerals necessary to heal itself.

Unfortunately, nowadays we tend to eat too many acidic foods. Thus, the body will try to make the acidic Ph level more alkaline by using alkaline minerals and, if there are not enough of these in our diets, then acidosis, or a build up of acids in the cells, will result. This leads to a host of problems including low energy and chronic fatigue, depression, lack of joy and enthusiasm and the tendency to stress easily.

Other things you can do to help yourself is to take up some form of exercise. It doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous – walking is an ideal way to start.

Also, knowing you are not alone in suffering from panic attacks can do a great deal to improve your state of mind so consider joining a support group. Nowadays, you can do this without leaving home as there are numerous on-line groups out there. Find one that you like and the suggestions and shared experiences you find there will help you feel that you are not alone.

Finally, positive thinking when you feel your first anxious thoughts coming to the fore may be enough to nip a panic attack in the bud. This will take some practice but many find it a valuable skill.