Learn More About Pain Management
Some of the best-known sources of pain include aging joints & bones, sports injuries, trauma, nutritional deficiencies, medication side-effects and substance abuse. Whether your pain is short or long-lasting, continuous or intermittent, self-inflicted or natural, it is an essential symptom that you should never ignore.
In fact, pain is a warning signal from your body that something is wrong. While you may find relief options on your own, only a doctor can tell you if the pain is dangerous and, possibly, life-threatening.
You will be overwhelmed if you go online to research pain management. To make things easier for you, here are some facts to keep in mind.
Pain Management- Most Important Facts
- Pain can be highly deceptive and tricky to diagnose; it is often not site-specific. Pain in the jaw, for example, can signify a heart attack.
- If pain doesn’t respond appropriately to OTC anti-inflammatories, drugs, medicated ointments, etc., then maybe it’s time to see your doctor.
- Is your pain chronic or acute? Immediate pain from getting hit with a bat, for example, is “acute” pain. It is usually short-lived, but even if it lingers on for a while, it should die off at some point.
- The second type of pain is “chronic.” This is the type of pain that is continuous and persistent and, without significant intervention, it’s not likely to go away. A good example is neuropathic pain brought on by diabetes mellitus.
- Chronic pain can induce disease. It can, for example, be the cause of anxiety, depression, paranoia, and other mental health issues. The emotional imbalance it engenders can also be the basis for physical diseases like high blood pressure, weight gain, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. This is yet another reason to attend to chronic pain promptly.
- There are many minimally-invasive, relatively-safe, and affordable pain management modalities, including:
- Massage therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Special herbs
- Relaxation exercises & exercise in general
- Physical therapy
- The first thing that should be determined is the source of the pain. This is best done with a physical exam, blood work, and medical imaging. This last one (e.g., an X-ray) is indispensable for internal (i.e., a broken bone or a tumor) pain sources
- Some of the necessary things that need to be determined before treatment is dispensed are:
- How intense is the pain?
- Where is the pain located?
- When did the pain start?
- How long has the pain been around?
- When is the pain most intense and when is it least bothersome?
- Is the pain like anything else you had in the past?
- Does anything you’ve done give you any relief, even if for short stints?
- Pain is sometimes determined to be idiopathic; meaning, no reason can be identified.
- All available chemical painkillers come with potentially dangerous side-effects and complications. In most cases, the chances for these bad interactions intensify the longer you use the product, the higher the dose and the more frequently you take it. Acetaminophen, for example, can damage the liver over time; Ibuprofen can negate the benefits of aspirin and damage both the heart and the kidneys.
- Pain emanating from the nerves can be difficult to pinpoint. A pinched nerve or herniated disc pressing on a nerve imparts pain that appears to be generalized, instead of localized.
- Although inflammation can serve a useful purpose (such as by helping tissue to heal more quickly), it can also help induce or exacerbate disease. It has been connected to both cancer and GERD. For these reasons, inflammation should be prevented and treated ASAP.
- --Opioid or opiate medications, although very effective painkillers, can lead to dangerous addictions and other complications. As such, use only when necessary and only under the supervision/guidance of a physician.
- Acupuncture, once shunned by the medical community, is now recognized as a relatively-safe and often-effective alternative treatment option for osteoarthritis, neck pain, fibromyalgia and low back pain. If looking for a safer alternative to synthetic painkillers, acupuncture may be a viable option for you.
Make sure that you find a practitioner/acupuncturist that is experienced, licensed and NCCAOM-certified to impart these Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatments. Some health insurance companies now DO cover acupuncture.
You don’t have to endure pain, whether acute or chronic. It isn’t just a matter of comfort but of making sure that your pain isn’t a serious medical issue that may, if not addressed appropriately and promptly, lead to serious complications, disability or even death.
It’s in your best interest to find a pain management clinic that will leave no stones unturned in its pursuit to find out the source(s) of your pain. After finding the source, a physician highly experienced in pain management will design a treatment plan that is custom-tailored to your unique, personal needs and make-up.
Afterwards, you should feel much better!