Today, there are many methods of pain management, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. The choice of a treatment method for physical suffering is not a simple task, still it remains the factor that influences the time it will take for a patient to get back to his usual way of life.
Pain that has one and the same cause can be perceived by two people in different ways. Therefore, one treatment method will alleviate the suffering of one person, yet it will not always prove effective for another person.
Reporting your pain to the doctor is the first step on the way of its relieving. Therefore, if there is a strong or prolonged pain, you should consult a doctor who specializes in its diagnosis and treatment.
Patients should describe pain in their own words. They should always provide as many details, as possible, even if these seem insignificant to them.
Experienced pain management doctors can determine a diagnosis based on the description of physical suffering and while observing how patients describe them, what emotions they express and what words they use.
Before he makes a diagnosis, the treatment specialist asks additional questions about the pain:
- Intensity, type, location and strength
- Time of the onset
- Factors that affect the intensity
- Sensory violations
- Impact on daily activities
Since pain is a subjective sensation of a person, the basis for choosing an effective pain management method is the information, obtained during the survey. Nevertheless, it is necessary to take into account that the information received by the doctor from a patient is not always objective.
Soreness is a natural reaction of the body to various internal and external conditions, so it is very important to determine the cause of its onset. A physical examination, a neurological evaluation, urine, blood or other sample tests will help determine the cause and classify the type of pain.
The overwhelming majority of physical sufferers are relieved or weakened within a few hours. Treatment of pain should occur in parallel, and not instead of treating the causes of soreness. If the disease is incurable, the main purpose of the drug therapy is to reduce suffering.
Management of mild pain
As a rule, the treatment of pain begins with the use of Acetaminophen (Paracetamol). Unlike most other analgesics, Acetaminophen is available at pharmacies without a prescription.
This drug is well tolerated by patients and exerts an analgesic effect that can alleviate mild to moderate pain. Acetaminophen is effective against muscle ache, headache, migraine, as well as physical suffering that are caused by abrasions, sprains, bruises or joint diseases.
If Acetaminophen turns not very effective for pain management, patients can be prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Such drugs are especially often prescribed with swelling, redness, or sports injuries.
NSAIDs effectively reduce pain, yet they cause more side effects, compared to Acetaminophen. The most common side effect is an increase in the production of gastric acid, which can cause stomach ulcer. The risk of ulcers increases with prolonged treatment and use of high doses. If high doses of analgesics do not help or suffering worsens, patient can be prescribed other drugs.
Management of mild to moderate pain
Guidelines for the treatment of patients with moderate pain include the use of more potent drugs than Acetaminophen or NSAIDs. Such drugs are known as weak opioid analgesics and are available in pharmacies only by prescription.
Weak opioid analgesics are used to remove acute or chronic pain, caused by burns, bone fractures and other less common severe injuries. Such drugs can cause addiction and other side effects, so should be used as little as possible.
Weak opioid analgesics can be prescribed in combination with Acetaminophen and reduce pain more effectively, compared to their separate use. Both drugs are taken in lower doses than alone, which reduces the risk of side effects. If treatment is not effective, stronger analgesics are prescribed.
Management of moderate to severe pain
Strong analgesics (opioids) increase tolerance to pain and allow controlling the most intense and unbearable suffering. Drugs of this type work effectively, regardless of whether soreness is of chronic or acute origin.
To avoid problems with toxicity, patients are first recommended to use opioids with a short half-life (up to 4 hours). If the necessary therapeutic effect is achieved, patients can be given strong painkillers of sustained release.
Treatment with opioids is associated with an increased risk of addiction, misuse and substance abuse. Therefore, painkillers of this type are taken under a supervision of an experienced physician, who must address the emotional, physical and psychological aspects.
Pain management clinics specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of various types of pain. The treatment of pain in such clinics is a safe and effective way to regain control of one’s life.
Patients on opioid medications should be warned about possible adverse events, prevention and treatment measures. During the use of such pain relievers, respiratory depression, nausea, constipation, vomiting, dry mouth or dysphoria are most common.