Understanding Pain Management: Techniques and Treatments
Understanding Pain Management: Techniques and Treatments
Pain management is designed to treat chronic pain and allows a person to live a full, enjoyable life. Chronic pain is pain that lasts more than three to six months or pain beyond the point of tissue healing. Some forms of chronic pain can be linked to an identifiable cause, such as degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, or spondylolisthesis. Other forms have no clear cause, such as fibromyalgia or nerve pain. Fighting chronic pain is a lifelong struggle for many. With an accurate diagnosis and early intervention, we hope to help patients avoid a state of chronic pain, or at least reduce the severity of pain, and improve quality of life.
Pain management requires a person’s dedication, commitment, and knowledge in order to achieve the best results. It can be a great alternative to surgery. Pain management techniques can be grouped in terms of their invasiveness: non-invasive, non-drug pain management; non-invasive pharmacologic pain management; and invasive pain management.
Non-invasive, Non-drug Pain Management
There are a variety of non-invasive, non-drug pain management techniques. Some of these include:
- Exercise – increasing strength, flexibility, and restoring normal motion is the aim. Includes water therapy, stretching exercises, aerobic routines and others. Exercise is necessary for proper cardiovascular health, disc nutrition and musculoskeletal health.
- Manual techniques- manipulation of affected areas by applying force to the joints, muscles, and ligaments.
- Behavioral modification – Cognitive therapy involves teaching the patient to alleviate back pain by means of relaxation techniques and coping techniques. Biofeedback involves learning to control muscle tension, blood pressure, and heart rate.
- Superficial heating or cooling of skin – These methods include cold packs and hot packs, ultrasound, and diathermy and are used in conjunction with exercise.
- Electrotherapy – the most commonly known form of electrotherapyis transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which uses a low-voltage electric stimulation that interacts with the sensory nervous system.
What is pain?
Pain is the means by which the peripheral nervous system (PNS) warns the central nervous system (CNS) of injury or potential injury to the body. The CNS comprises the brain and spinal cord, and the PNS is composed of the nerves that stem from and lead into the CNS. PNS includes all nerves throughout the body except the brain and spinal cord.
Once the brain has received and processed the pain message and coordinated an appropriate response, pain has served its purpose. The body uses natural pain killers, called endorphins, that are meant to derail further pain messages from the same source. However, these natural pain killers may not adequately dampen a continuing pain message. Pain is generally divided into two categories: acute and chronic.
Acute and chronic pain
Nociceptive pain, or the pain that is transmitted by nociceptors, is typically called acute pain. This kind of pain is associated with injury, headaches, disease, and many other conditions. It usually resolves once the condition that caused it is resolved. However, following some disorders, pain does not resolve. Even after healing or a cure has been achieved, the brain continues to perceive pain. In this situation, the pain may be considered chronic. The time limit used to define chronic pain typically ranges from three to six months, although some healthcare professionals prefer a more flexible definition and consider pain chronic when it endures beyond a normal healing time. The pain associated with cancer , persistent and degenerative conditions, and neuropathy, or nerve damage, is included in the chronic category. Also, constant pain that lacks an identifiable physical cause, such as the majority of cases of low back pain, may be considered chronic.
It has been hypothesized that uninterrupted and unrelenting pain can induce changes in the spinal cord. As of 2004 evidence was accumulating that unrelenting pain or the complete lack of nerve signals increases the number of pain receptors in the spinal cord. Nerve cells in the spinal cord may also begin secreting pain-amplifying neurotransmitters independent of actual pain signals from the body. Other studies indicate that even newborn and premature infants who have constant pain will reach adulthood with greater sensitivity to pain and lower tolerance of stress.
Considering the different causes and types of pain, as well as its nature and intensity, management can require an interdisciplinary approach. The elements of this approach include treating the underlying cause of pain, pharmacological and nonpharmacological therapies, and some invasive (surgical) procedures.
Treating the cause of pain underpins the idea of managing it. Injuries are repaired, diseases are diagnosed, and certain encounters with pain can be anticipated and prevented. However, there are no guarantees of immediate relief from pain. Recovery can be impeded by pain, and quality of life can be damaged.
What are signs you need to see a doctor for pain?
Make an appointment with your doctor if your pain:
- hasn’t gone away after two to three weeks
- is causing you stress, anxiety, or depression
- prevents you from relaxing or sleeping
- stops you from exercising or participating in your normal activities
- hasn’t improved with any of the treatments you’ve tried
Living with chronic pain can be emotionally and physically challenging. Many types of treatments can help you find relief.
Passive Pain Management
Passive pain management, as the name implies, does not require any active participation of the patient. Generally, it is an action performed by someone else like a physician on behalf of the patient. During this treatment, the patient does not need to invest his energy. Most passive pain management treatments can help the sufferer fight pain. However, it provides relief for the short term.
Some of the best methods falling under this category are:
- Hot or Cold Compress
Here are some effective passive pain management techniques for pain reduction and relief.
Techniques of Passive Pain Management
- Physical Therapy Modalities: Physical therapy modalities may include treatments like:
- Hot or Cold Compress: You can apply heat packs in the form of hot water bags to get relief from back pain, shoulder pain or spinal pain. In some cases, a cold compress can also provide relief. You can place ice packs in the form of ice cubes over the affected area.
- Medical Massage Treatments: This includes a deep tissue massage. It soothes the soft muscle tissues and helps in quick healing.
- Ultrasound: Here, heat is applied to the deep layers of tissue to provide relief against a kind of pain. Ultrasound treatment is effective in treating any kind of chronic pain.
- Chiropractic Adjustments: The chiropractic adjustments can help reduce pain. It is a safe treatment unless performed by a trained chiropractor or a licensed center. Depending on the type and source of pain an individual suffers from, they can undergo spinal realignment treatments.
As you know, to get pain relief or reduce the levels of pain, you need to undergo pain-relieving treatments. However, this depends on the plan your doctor or physician advice. Depending on the kind of pain, you can undergo the active techniques or the passive ones.
For quick and healthy relief, you should mix both to get the best of both. This can help you increase the quality of life. You should also add exercising or practicing Yoga or meditation to your daily routine for a healthy and quality life.
For acute or uncontrollable pain, do not hesitate to consult a pain management specialist or a doctor.