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.
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.