Pain is an unpleasant feeling or discomfort caused by injury, illness or emotional disorder. Acute pain results from a disease, inflammation, or injury. This type of pain starts suddenly and persists for short period, as in pain after an accidental trauma or surgery. Chronic pain is caused by a disease itself and persists for a longer period of time. Pain management involves treatment of the underlying disease with appropriate medications as well as pain relief using medications and alternative techniques such as acupuncture, ice and heat application and massage. The different types of medications used for pain management include:
- Analgesics: Analgesics are the pain relieving medications which are available as both over the counter and prescription medications. Analgesics may be used to relieve chronic pain in conditions such as osteoarthritis.
- Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are effective in the treatment of back pain and inflammatory conditions such as tendonitis, bursitis and arthritis.
- Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are used to treat chronic inflammation of the joints caused by rheumatoid arthritis. They are available in the form of oral medications and injections administered into the joint (cortisone injection).
- Narcotic analgesics: Narcotic analgesic medications are used to relieve acute pain, such as pain that is felt immediately following an injury or a surgical procedure. The use of these medications needs monitoring by your physician as they are potentially addictive.
- Anticonvulsants: Anticonvulsant medications relieve neurogenic (nerve) pain and chronic pain in the soft tissues surrounding the joint caused by fibromyalgia.
- Local Anesthetics: Local anesthesia is a pain control option used in some types of superficial surgical procedures of the hand and foot. However, it may not provide adequate pain relief in invasive procedures. Local anesthetics are also used for temporary relief of pain. In cases of chronic pain, local anesthetics can be applied as a topical patch over the skin in the painful area.
The other treatment options for chronic pain include:
- Acupuncture: Acupuncture treatment involves insertion of needles into specific points in the body to stimulate the release of pain relieving substances such as endorphins. It is used in the management of post-operative pain, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, arthritis and low back pain.
- Ice and heat application: Ice packs can be used after acute injuries such as an ankle sprain. Applying ice over the injured area in the first 48 hours will help to reduce swelling and control pain. Ice treatment can also be used in cases of overuse injuries caused by repetitive action during sports. Ice should be applied over these injuries only after the activity to reduce inflammation.
Heat treatment is suitable for chronic conditions such as overuse injuries and should be given prior to any sports activity.