Pain Management Symptomatic Relief

Although pain is a sensation that is felt by all people at some time or another, pain is relative. Thus, two people experiencing the same type of pain might describe the pain quite differently. What feels unbearable to one person could simply be a minor annoyance to another.

However, whether you have a high tolerance for pain or a low pain threshold, most people who experience pain are eager to find ways to relieve their pain. Luckily, a number of pain relief options exist.

Types of Pain

In order to properly treat your pain, you should first determine the type of pain from which you are suffering. There are two main types of pain:

  • Acute pain is the type that occurs briefly and intensely after trauma. The pain felt after stubbing your toe or cutting your finger while chopping vegetables is considered acute pain. Many people describe acute pain as feeling “sharp.”
  • Chronic pain is long-term, continuous pain. Often, people will describe this type of pain as “dull.” Chronic pain can result from a number of factors, including injury, viral infections and disease complications.

While acute pain can usually be treated with an over-the-counter ointment or pain medication, such as acetaminophen, chronic pain often requires medical intervention.

Pain Relief Options

Several options for relieving pain are available, including:

  • medication
  • physical and mental techniques
  • psychological counseling and support.

However, it is always recommended that a patient receive a doctor’s opinion before trying any type of pain relief option.

Pain Relief: Medication

Often, when a patient is feeling intense chronic pain, the first remedy a doctor will prescribe is some sort of pain medication. Many patients respond well to non-opioid pain relievers, such as:

  • acetaminophen
  • aspirin
  • ibuprofen
  • naproxen
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Usually a combination of different types of pain medications at lower does is more effective than a single high-dose medication.

When taking pain medications, especially prescription pain medications, it is important to always follow your doctor’s advice and never exceed the prescribed dosage. Also, never take pain medications that have not been prescribed specifically to you.

Pain Relief: Physical and Mental Techniques

Additionally, there are several ways to treat pain through physical and mental therapy. Here are a few therapeutic techniques to relieve pain:

  • Distraction: As it has been determined that pain becomes greater when a person focuses his attention on it, pain can often be relieved if a person distracts himself from the pain and focuses on something else. Even something as simple as watching television or listening to the radio can constitute a distraction. However, sometimes more hands-on activities, such as gardening or painting, might be required.
  • Relaxation: When a person is experiencing pain, it is often beneficial to relax and rest. In addition to helping alleviate pain, relaxing can also reduce stress, an emotion that often accompanies chronic pain.
  • Skin Stimulation: Skin stimulation is any type pressure, friction, temperature change, etc., that excites nerve endings and helps to fight pain. Massage, acupuncture and acupressure are examples of skin stimulus. Always consult a doctor before trying skin stimulation, as it could cause more harm than good.

Psychological Counseling and Support

Even though counseling and support groups cannot reduce the physical effects of pain, experts agree that both can help a person cope with pain.

Counseling and support groups can help a patient learn that he is not alone and that his pain is not unique. Finding a group of similar people can allow a person to connect and can also let him vent his frustrations about his pain. In addition, people in support groups can talk about pain relief methods that have and have not worked for them.

Resources

American Pain Foundation (2007). Relieving Pain. Retrieved September 7, 2007, from the American Pain Foundation Web site: http://www.painfoundation.org/page.asp?file=documents/doc_039.htm.

Blood and Marrow Transplant Newsletter (1993). Relieving Pain. Retrieved September 7, 2007, from the Blood and Marrow Transplant Newsletter Web site: http://www.bmtinfonet.org/newsletters/issue16/relieving.html.

HospiceNet.org (n.d.). How to Relieve Pain Without Medications. Retrieved September 7, 2007, from Hospice.net Web site: http://www.hospicenet.org/html/without_meds.html.