Pain Management is a medical approach that draws on disciplines in science and alternative methods of healing to study the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of pain.
Pain management is otherwise the process of providing care that alleviates or reduces pain.
Pain may mean anything from a dull ache to a sharp stab and can range from mild pain to extreme. You may feel pain in one part of your body or it may be widespread.
There are two types of pain:
Acute pain – a normal response to an injury or medical condition. It starts suddenly and usually lasts short.
Chronic pain – continues beyond the time expected for healing. It generally lasts for longer than 3 months.
The main causes of pain include injury, medical conditions (such as back problems, cancer, arthritis), or surgery.
A patient’s emotional well-being can impact the experience of pain. Understanding the causes and learning effective ways to cope with your pain can improve your quality of life.
Key pain management strategies include:
- Pain medicines. The main types of pain medicines are:
- Paracetamol – often recommended as the first medicine to relieve short-term pain.
- Aspirin – for short-term relief of fever and mild-to-moderate pain.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen – these medicines relieve pain and reduce inflammation (redness and swelling).
- Opioid medicines, such as codeine, morphine, and oxycodone – these medicines are reserved for severe or cancer pain.
- Local anaesthetics (drops, sprays, creams, or injections) – used when nerves can be easily reached.
- Some antidepressants and anti-epilepsy medicines – are used for a specific type of pain, called nerve pain.
- Physical therapies (such as heat or cold packs, massage, hydrotherapy, exercise, walking, stretching, strengthening, or aerobic exercises may help reduce pain, keep you mobile and improve your mood)
- Psychological therapies (such as cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation techniques, and meditation). These forms of psychological therapy can help you learn to change how you think and, in turn, how you feel and behave about pain. This is a valuable strategy for learning to self-manage chronic pain.
- Mind and body techniques (such as acupuncture)
- Community support groups.