What Is Pain Management?

Hitting your toes against the foot of the bed or touching a very hot surface in the kitchen will have you feeling pain immediately. However, you know that this type of pain is only temporary, and you should feel fine in a short time.

Suffering an injury in an accident or as a result of surgery may have you feeling pain for a much longer period, while other conditions may have you dealing with pain permanently. In some cases, the pain can become chronic, impacting your life and all your daily activities. Learning to control or manage your pain becomes crucial for you to function as you did before the pain set in. Read more here about pain management and its benefits.

Defining Your Pain

There are two major categories of pain. Acute pain lasts a short period of time while chronic pain is something that you have to deal with for much longer, in some cases permanently.

When you perform an activity that causes pain, like when you twist your ankle or are hit by a ball, you experience pain but understand it will not last long. Conditions like arthritis or back pain may have you battling constant, chronic pain.

What is pain management, and what is its purpose?

Pain management is a multidisciplinary approach geared towards evaluating, diagnosing, and treating pain. Doctors from different specialties may participate in the team’s efforts to help the patient achieve the best possible quality of life. Psychiatrists may also be involved to help patients deal with the emotional side of pain.

How will the first session start?

Your medical team will be interested in learning all about the pain, how it originated, how long you have had it, what treatments you have tried in the past, and will get your full medical history. They will also want you to grade the level of your pain and describe how it impacts your daily life. Finally, they will want to know if there are any medications for the pain you are currently taking and what their effect has been.

How is pain managed?

There are different approaches to pain management. The first one involves medication which can include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, or steroids that can be administered through injections, depending on the type and location of the pain. Although opioids were prescribed much more frequently in the past, doctors are trying to stay away from them due to concerns with misuse.

Pain management approaches that do not involve medications include massages, acupuncture, physical therapies, exercise, heat applied to the area, and relaxation techniques.

You may also be referred to community support groups. It has been found that sharing your experiences with other people that are feeling the same way you are can be extremely beneficial. You may not only find comfort in confirming that you are not alone, the meetings may shed light on different techniques or activities that other members have practiced, which may also be helpful for you.

Your doctor will talk to you about the different pain management options and discuss the possibility of mixing more than one approach to achieve the most favorable results. If there is anything you have tried in the past that has not worked, let them know. Also, talk about treatments you would be willing to try and mention those that concern you and from which you would like to stay away. Being honest and open with your doctor is the best approach to managing your pain.