Pain is an unpleasant feeling or discomfort caused by injury, illness or emotional disorder. Pain can be differentiated into two basic types, such as:
- Acute pain – It results from disease, inflammation, or injury. This type of pain starts suddenly, for example, after accidental trauma or surgery.
- Chronic pain – It is caused by a disease itself. Both environmental and psychological factors can worsen it. It persists for a longer period of time. Chronic pain conditions include chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, inflammatory bowel disease, interstitial cystitis, temporo-mandibular joint dysfunction, and vulvodynia.
Complete acute and chronic pain conditions evaluation
Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on the history of pain you have narrated such as type of pain – whether sharp or dull aching pain, duration and location of pain.
There are various diagnostic techniques used to find the cause of pain and some of them include:
- Electro diagnostic procedures – Electromyography (EMG), nerve conduction studies, and evoked potential (EP) studies.
- Electromyography (EMG) – help to find out which muscles or nerves are affected by weakness or pain.
- Nerve conduction studies – determine if there is any nerve damage.
- Evoked Potential (EP) – is used to record the speed of nerve signal sent to the brain.
- Imaging, especially Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), that uses magnetic waves to differentiate diseased and healthy tissues.
- A neurological examination involves testing for movement, reflexes, sensation, balance, and coordination.
- X-rays used to see the deformities of bones and joints.
The ultimate goal of pain management is to improve the function of an individual by enabling him to carry out his day-to-day activities in a normal way. There are many ways by which pain can be treated.
Analgesic medications: These are pain relieving medicines such as aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Tylenol® (acetaminophen) is an over the counter pain reliever.
Anticonvulsants such as carbamazepine are used to relieve pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia.
Antidepressants along with neuroleptics and lithium are also prescribed. In addition, anti-anxiety drugs called benzodiazepines (muscle relaxants) are used to relieve muscle pain.
Antimigraine drugs – triptans such as sumatriptan (Imitrex®), naratriptan (Amerge®), and zolmitriptan (Zomig®) and are used to relieve migraine headaches. These medications should be taken only on doctor’s advice as they can cause serious adverse effects.
Physical therapy involves use of physical techniques and methods, such as heat, cold, exercise, massage, and manipulation, in the treatment of certain chronic pain conditions. These techniques help to increase function, control pain, and rehabilitate the patient.
Heat and cold therapy help relieve pain when applied to the painful areas. Physical exercises include stretching and range-of-motion exercises to maintain strength, flexibility and mobility. Regular exercises relieve stress and also increase production of endorphins- natural pain relievers.
Psychological evaluation and therapy
Psychological counseling such as behavioral therapy improve your mental health and manages conditions such as stress and depression that aggravates chronic pain. It is important to be physically as well as emotionally stable to manage chronic pain.