There are many experiences that cause apprehension and fear. Pain is at the top of the list of things that we fear, wish to avoid, minimize and resolve quickly. Pain management is a developing section of medical care that attempts to apply scientific knowledge and best practices to reduce pain. Treatment providers recognize the complex nature of pain and the necessity to treat it from all directions.
There is no one answer or one treatment that fits all types of pain. For some, over the counter pain medications are effective. For others, prescription medications work like a charm. Physical therapy also alleviates some types of pain. There are many components to our individual experiences of pain, and it is important for each of us to recognize how emotional factors can worsen the feeling of pain if not carefully monitored and treated. Taking a pill does not always alleviate pain, and we need to think beyond that if medication is not working. Medicine today is aware of the numerous options that help the treatments all work together for better effectiveness.
The goal of pain management is to minimize pain, to improve functioning and to increase one’s quality of life. As with all pain suffering, a medical evaluation should be done to determine the cause and nature of the pain. While some instances are due to illness and recent recovery periods, such as after a surgery, some pain syndromes are related to chronic disease states, such as in diabetes, arthritis, cancer and other chronic conditions. Medications can work to deaden the experience of pain directly, while others can work more indirectly and ultimately enhance pain reduction. There is a great body of knowledge that exists reinforcing the need to treat emotion, as people that suffer from depression and anxiety often have a greater experience of pain. Treating these issues is critical in reducing the experience of pain. There are numerous other medical procedures that serve to reduce pain by blocking nerve centers, hoping to block the messages to the brain that lead to our experience of pain. Acupuncture, yoga, massage therapy, and biofeedback all have proven effective in the management and treatment of pain syndromes. Exercise, if guided by proper medical oversight, can often lead to lessening of pain and prevention of it getting worse.
As pain sufferers know, there is often no one solution. Sometimes what has been working may abruptly stop working, which is frustrating. This is known: pain is not to be ignored as when not treated effectively it often leads to things getting worse. Finding the cause of pain is essential and then treating the root cause if possible or blocking the pain itself. While it is not difficult to see how pain disrupts the quality of our lives, it is important to remember that pain can lead to other medical problems. Pain leads to higher blood pressure, higher heart rate, and anxiety, all of which can lead to further health issues. If you suffer from pain that is not well treated or responding to treatment, seek an evaluation from a pain management specialist.
The American Chronic Pain Association (theacpa.org) can give you a good start regarding resources, tools to help you evaluate and record your pain, where to go and what to ask a provider on evaluation
The American Academy of Pain Medicine (painmed.org) will help you with the most recent research and pain management options
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (nccih.cih.gov) will give you the research and statistics on alternative approaches and how best to evaluate with your medical provider what could be appropriate for you.