When one thinks of pain, one most often thinks of it as an unpleasant physical and sensory experience. Although that is not an incorrect definition, it is certainly incomplete. Pain, especially when prolonged and severe, spans over many aspects of a sufferer’s daily life and can impact his or her functionality at home, on the workforce and in social arenas.
Pain can be labeled as acute or chronic. Acute pain, which is usually caused by a sudden injury or trauma, can usually be reversed in a relatively short period of time when the bodily damage is corrected. Not so with chronic pain that is caused by diseased conditions which are not easily diagnosed and even harder to treat. Chronic pain, therefore, is usually longer lasting and often irreversible. There is yet another type of pain that falls under the umbrella of chronic pain and that is the pain which continues even after its cause has been removed or the pain whose cause has never been identified.
Pain Management Explained
Sometimes referred to as pain medicine, pain management is that branch of medicine and a medical specialty that deals with alleviating, reducing and reversing pain regardless of its causes. Pain management is one of the most significant facets of caring for patients, particularly the terminally ill, and it is but one branch of the broader medical specialty that is known as palliative care. Both, the palliative care and pain management can be delivered to patients in varied settings such as medical offices, clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, hospices, as well as in-home care.
Predominantly depending on the severity of pain and its cause, pain management can be very basic and simple or multifaceted and extremely intricate; and it can also be a widely varied range between the two extremes. Pain management can be a brief or a onetime treatment and it can be a prolonged process that may last weeks, months or even years. Pain management can be mild and gentle or very forceful and aggressive.
Pain caused by aggravated nerve roots such as in cases dental root canals, for instance, requires simple pain relieving medications. However, pain that arises from conditions such as cancer, heart failure, end-stage renal disease and AIDS will not be gotten rid of with simple pain management because it requires various combinations of more pain relieving techniques such as intervention procedures and drugs therapies.
Hence, the full extent of pain management involves the expertise of such specialized medical fields as pharmacology, neurobiology, nursing, dentistry, physiotherapy, psychology, anesthesiology, physiatry, neurology, and psychiatry. Furthermore, pain management also requires the proficiency of the alternative and non-conventional fields of study.
The Tools of Pain Management
The tools utilized for pain management can be divided into two major groups; the pharmacological and the non-pharmacological.
1/ The pharmacological include such analgesics as narcotics, NSAIDs, antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Although they are not truly analgesics, steroids are often administered to relieve pain.
2/ The non-pharmacologic include interventional procedures that do not involve the administration of drugs and they include physical therapy, chiropractic treatments, psychological counseling, support systems, and other medical specialists as well as alternative therapies such as acupuncture, acupressure, massage therapy, biofeedback, cognitive therapy, electric stimulation, aquatic therapy, and so on. The non-pharmacologic tools of pain management can also include home remedies such as applications of hot or cold compresses, herbal therapies and good old fashioned bed rest.