What is Pain?
Pain is a general term that describes unpleasent sensations in the body which is triggered by the nervous system in response to any damage or abnormality it the body. Pain can range from annoying to debilitating, and it can feel like a sharp intense or a dull ache.
Pain can also be described stabbing, throbbing, stinging, sore, and pinching. Pain can be consistent, can start and stop frequently, or can occur only under certain conditions. People respond to pain individually. Some people have a high tolerance for pain, while others have a low tolerance. Due to this reason, pain is highly specific.(1)(2)
Pain can be acute which occurs suddenly due to any disease or injury. It can be usually diagnosed and treated. While chronic pain can occur over a longer period of time lasting for more than three months. Pain can be localized, affecting a specific area of the body, or it can be general which affects the whole body .For example, the overall body aches related with the flu. With many chronic conditions, the cause of the pain is unrevealed.
Although inconvenient and uncomfortable, pain can be a positive thing. It lets us know when something is wrong and gives us indications about causes. Some pain is easy to diagnose and can be controlled at home. But some types of pain indicate serious conditions.
What Causes Pain?
Some common causes of pain include:
- muscle strain or overuse
- cuts or wounds
- nerve damage
- bone fractures
- stomach ache
Many diseases or disorders, such as flu,cancer, fibromyalgia,heart attack, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and reproductive problems, can cause pain. Some people experience other symptoms along with pain. These can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability, depression, and anger.
When to See a Doctor
You should go for medical attention for your pain if:
- it is the due to an injury or accident, particularly when there is a risk of bleeding, infection, or fractured bones, or when there is head injury
- if an internal pain is acute and sharp: this type of pain may indicate a serious problem, such as a ruptured appendix.
- if the pain occurs in the chest, as this could indicate a heart attack
- if the pain is troublesome to your life and making it hard to work or sleep
How Is Pain Diagnosed?
If you wil go for medical attention for your pain, your doctor will first perform a physical examination and ask you some questions. Be prepared to discuss the pain very precisely, including about its onset, when the pain is most severe, and whether it is mild, moderate, or very intense. Your doctor will also be ask about any known triggers, about how the pain affects your life, and about any medications you are taking. Your doctor will make diagnosis on the basis of informations shared by you.
How Is Pain Treated?
Acute pain will usually subsides naturally once the cause for the pain has been treated. For accidents or a particular injury, this could be once the injury or tissues heal. The injury might heal naturally with time or you might require medication, surgery, or other medical care.
Treatment for acute pain depends on the issue or injury behind the pain, if it’s known.
Chronic pain can be more difficult to treat, mainly if the cause of the pain is unknown. Sometimes chronic pain occurs due to an initial injury, but not always. The easiest way to relieve pain is to deal with the primary issue.
Treatment scheme for pain may have:
- over-the-counter pain killers like NSAIDs (aspirin and ibuprofen)
- prescribed pain medication
- physical therapy and occupational therapy
- music therapy
- therapeutic massage
- yoga or mild stretching with deep breathing
- heating pads or heat baths
- cold packs or ice baths
- progressive muscle relaxation
- guided imagery
For minor injuries which don’t need medical attention, follow the common rule of RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).