Pain Management

Pain management and pain treatment may vary for each patient, or each doctor. Some pain may be treated with over the counter pain meds while chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and severe pain may require prescription pain killers. Pain clinics can help patients manage their pain.

The approach to pain management is different for different individuals and practitioners, as well as different depending on how severe the pain is and how long it will (or is likely to) last. This article provides an overview of some of the considerations that are considered in pain management.

What Are Pain and Pain Management?

Pain is usually a symptom of an illness, injury, or disorder. Pain calls your attention to a situation which allows you to respond, either by acting to prevent further pain, seeking help for the condition, or both. Pain management begins with finding the source of the pain. This may be obvious or obscure, depending on the illness, injury, or disorder involved. Depression, for example, is known to manifest as physical aches and pains.

In general, pain management can involve directly addressing the cause of the pain, or stopping the pain directly, or both. Sometimes the two may be intertwined. Pain management for a paper cut may be indirect, and focus mainly on the wounded finger and on avoiding further pain, involving washing with antiseptic to prevent infection and protecting with a bandage. Pain management with a headache may involve swallowing a couple of ibuprofens or acetaminophens, while doing nothing, directly to one’s head.

What Kinds of Pain Treatments Are There?

Pain treatments, as indicated in the preceding section, may be direct or indirect. These are some categories:

            Non-Medicine Treatments

Pain is not always treated with medicine. The pain of a fracture or sprain, for example, may be partially relieved by ice and elevation. In addition, there may be times, for example, pregnancy, when a person wishes to avoid painkillers, and therefore takes other approaches to pain management. Other ways to relieve pain without medicine, besides those listed above, include:

  • soaking
  • heat
  • massage
  • rest
  • relaxation techniques

In some cases, surgery may be needed to relieve pain.

            Medicine That Is Not Pain Specific

People who have experienced gas or constipation know that there can be a fair amount of pain from these two conditions. But successful treatment often need not involve any pain medication. There are other situations as well, such as a minor infection from a cut or bite, in which treatment may involve a medication that promotes healing, and healing is what resolves the pain. Sometimes prescription medications, such as corticosteroids, may be used to relieve inflammation, which often reduces pain.

            Over-the-Counter (OTC) Pain Treatments

OTC pain medicines are widely used for pain management. They include: topical pain relievers; acetaminophen (marketed as Tylenol); and a wide variety of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, and others that require a prescription. Brand names include Actron, Advil, Aleve, Bayer, Ecotrin, Excedrin, Motrin IB, Nuprin, and Orudis KT.

Note that even though most of these are sold without a prescription, they all have guidelines for use:

  • Aspirin should not be given to children.
  • Tylenol should not be taken more frequently or at a higher dosage than indicated lest liver damage occur.
  • NSAIDS are the second major cause of ulcers.
  • NSAIDS are contraindicated with alcohol use, steroids, and anti-coagulants.
  • Cumulative NSAID use contributes to adverse effects.

            Prescription Pain Medications

Pain treatment available by prescription includes COX-2 inhibitors, NSAIDs that carry a risk for a cardiovascular event and life-threatening gastrointestinal bleeding, according to the Food and Drug Administration and opioids. In recent years, doctors have discovered that medications known as antidepressants and anticonvulsants can be effective as pain medications as well.

Opioids provide many of the pain killers used with serious pain. Some types work for acute pain, while others can be used with chronic pain. The opioids include codeine, Demerol, fentanyl, morphine, and oxycodone. Opioids are also available combined with other pain medications. Opioids are effective for severe pain. They are also highly addictive and widely abused. Opioids also have various complications including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and constipation.


Related Article: Chronic Pain >>