People feel pain for many reasons. It is a normal reaction of your body, and it is using this method to tell you that something is wrong. This usually happens when the body senses that there has been damage to your tissues and sends signals to the brain. Your brain then translates these signals into pain.
Pain can appear as mild and temporary discomfort such as a minor headache or a small pinch that is felt somewhere in the body. But at other times, it can be severe and lead to other symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, or weakness all over the body.
According to research, more than $600 billion each year are spent on pain-related expenses in the US alone. This covers the actual cost of treatments and therapy, including income losses for the days when patients are unable to report to work and is rendered unproductive by the pain.
People perceive pain differently. Each person has his own pain tolerance and his own way of describing the level of pain that he is experiencing. Pain can also be described in various ways, depending on the person, such as burning, shooting, throbbing, cutting, or sharp. This is why pain treatment is subjective and also changes from person to person.
Types of Pain
Pain can be classified in general as either acute or chronic, which basically refers to the length of time a person has experienced the discomfort. Acute pain is normally felt strongly, but it does not last long. The pain fades away after the tissue injury has healed and the body has recovered, whether through rest or medication.
Acute pain can either be somatic, visceral or referred, depending on the source or the cause of pain. Somatic pain is associated with surface-level injuries, usually on the skin or the tissues directly under the skin. These can be easily addressed through first aid treatments and topical ointments.
Visceral pain and referred pain are more complex as they are caused by internal injuries that affect either the organs or the body cavities. The pain of this type must be diagnosed and treated at its source by a medical professional.
On the other hand, chronic pain lasts much longer and can either be constant or intermittent. The level of pain could also be mild or severe, and the treatment depends on the patient’s pain tolerance as well as the actual cause of the pain. Chronic pain is usually related to an underlying condition that must be treated by a specialist.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that about 20% of adults suffer from chronic pain in the US. Globally, it is one of the leading causes of disability as it affects the patient’s physical conditions in terms of mobility, productivity, and overall well-being, while also causing mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, and social isolation.
When To Seek Professional Help
Most types of pain fade away after a certain period as long as your body has recovered from the injury, either through resting or taking over-the-counter medications. But in some instances, pain can incapacitate the patient, making him unable to function normally. In these instances, simple medication would not be able to help any longer.
Because pain is subjective and varies from one person to another, there is no fixed rule on when to seek the help of a medical professional in order to treat and manage pain. What may be severe pain for one person could still be tolerable for another.
But you need to seek professional help from a pain management expert when the pain starts to affect your productivity at work or in school, or when you feel that your usual medications are no longer working. You should also get yourself checked when you notice that your quality of life is already at stake, such as when you begin having difficulties sleeping or losing your appetite due to pain.
Pain management is basically a healthcare plan or regimen that will help patients get relief from their pain, following the objective of improving their quality of life and enabling them to be productive again. It starts with identifying the source and trigger of the pain, including the exact location of the body where the patient feels the most pain. Since people have different levels of tolerance, the pain management specialist will also ask the patient to rate the level of pain based on his experience.
The healthcare provider will then recommend one type of treatment or a mix of different approaches, which mainly depends on the cause and severity of the pain. It may include medication, therapy, procedures, and physical exercise. Lifestyle changes may also be required if these are found to be directly related to the cause of pain. In cases where the pain cannot be totally eliminated, the healthcare provider will look for ways to alleviate the pain and bring it down to a more tolerable level.