Pain is a constant companion for humanity. There is nothing as useful and, at the same time, as dreaded as pain. It is an essential tool for our survival throughout our existence by teaching us to avoid poison, sharp objects, fire, and many other harmful things. It also performs the vital function of alerting the body about an injury. Though very useful, the feeling of pain is also very unpleasant, and based on the severity and how long it lasts, it can harm the quality of life of a person.
History of pain relief?
The history of pain relief is as fascinating as the pain itself. The pain relief medicines and addiction goes hand in hand, as evident by the past. In Europe during the 1600s, doctors were offering their patients opium to relieve pain, and by the 1800s, people were using ether, chloroform, and anesthetic for the suffering. Though some experts at the time suggested that effects these medications might hamper the healing process, these caught on eventually.
Morphine and heroin also came into use as pain medication in the 1900s, and it was also the period when doctors were having a difficult time in determining whether these medicines will improve the quality of life of their patients or make them vulnerable to addictions.
What types of pain exist?
Every person feels pain differently but based on the causes, and symptoms experts classify them in the following categories:
It can last for a brief period and can cause severe problems, and most of the medical treatments don’t work for this kind of pain.
People can feel the symptoms of these pains for an extended period. All the conditions that last for 3 to 6 months or longer comes under this category.
These are the result of damaged never fibers and can become chronic. Doctors believe that this condition is a result of diabetes.
These occur as a result of depression, anxiety, and other mental and emotional problems, which can cause pain or worsen the existing ones.
This kind of pain affects muscle, ligaments, tendons, and bones.
Chronic muscle pain:
People who do intense work and make too much or too little use of their muscles can experience this condition.
Central pain syndrome:
This type of pain is a result of a stroke, multiple sclerosis, or spinal cord injuries. It can show up as a chronic pain and burning syndromes due to the damage to the brain regions.
Signs and symptoms of pain?
Pain is a feeling of discomfort which can be mild or very severe. It can affect the overall well being of a person and can lead to the development of mental health conditions like anxiety disorder and depression. A person having pain can exhibit the following symptoms:
- Moaning, groaning, or whimpering
- Writhing or constant shifting in bed
- Facial grimacing or a frown
- Appearing uneasy and tense
- Restlessness and agitation
The severy is apparent by the number of symptoms a person shows. More the signs, the severe the pain.
Method of Pain Relief?
There are two methods of pain relief. One involves the use of medication, and the other is about using home remedies and doing exercise. Which way a person should follow depends on the severity of their conditions and the cause of it. Acute pains usually pass in a few minutes to a few hours and often don’t require medical attention. Others, like one caused by injury, or due to a mental health issue, will need immediate help from a medical professional.
Pain relief medicines?
Doctors prescribe different pain relief medicines for different types of pain. People can take over the counter medicines like acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for mild pain. For severe pain, the doctor can prescribe something more potent.
The most commonly prescribed medications include:
How to use pain relief Medicines?
People should take their doctor’s advice when using medicines for pain relief. They should take only as much dose as required to treat their symptoms, as taking more than that can result in an overdose, which can be fatal in the case of drugs like opioids.
A doctor will assess the condition and prescribe the medicine accordingly. People should also make sure that they are not taking any other drugs, as it can interfere with these medications and result in severe side effects. They should tell the doctor about using different medicines and any mental or physical health issues that they might have.
Those who take prescription pain medications, especially opioids, should take extra caution and do not use it for an extended period, as long-term use can result in dependence and addiction.
How do pain relief Medicines work in the body?
Pain relief medicines work by affecting the brain to reduce the inflammation. Different types of drugs take a different approach to the same problem; they all change the levels of various chemicals in the brain to alter how the body feels and respond to the feeling of pain.
Opioid pain medications block the pain signals traveling between the nerves and the brain to help reduce the symptoms. Medicines like antidepressants can help in conditions like migraine and nerve damage. Anticonvulsants like gabapentin etc. can relieve nerve pain by calming the brain and decreasing the number of pain signals traveling in the mind.
Doses of pain relief medicines?
A physician might determine the adequate dosage of these medicines for an individual based on various factors that include:
- Their age
- The severity of their condition
- Any other medication that they might be taking
- Mental or physical health issues that they might have
- Their tolerance for these drugs
- How long their body takes to process these medications
The doctor will start with the lowest effective dose and keep the patient under observation for the first few days. If required, the doctor can decrease or increase the dosage to achieve the desired outcome.
Types of Therapy to get pain relief?
There are different types of treatments that do not require the use of medicines and some that one can follow along with taking the medications. These therapies include:
Physical Therapy (Exercise):
Physical therapy is becoming more and more common practice for treating various pains. Doctors often use this as a combination therapy along with the medicines. It helps manage the condition while also keeping the risk of side effects low.
This treatment is helpful for people who have the following conditions:
- Nerve pain
- Postsurgical pain
A therapist uses pressure and rubbing to loosen up tight muscles and tendons to help a person relax. This procedure helps reduce pain by relieving stress. It also soothes tight muscles and improves blood flow to them. There are also virtually zero side effects of this procedure.
Certain conditions like a skin rash, cardiovascular disease, or infection can cause complications during a massage, so one should check with a doctor to make sure they don’t have any such issue beforehand.
Hot and cold treatment:
Using Ice packs and warm compresses are effective ways of getting relief from mild pain. Which one should a person use depends on what is the cause of their condition?
Applying cold to the affected area can narrow the blood vessels and reduce inflammation and swelling. This type of treatment is ideal after an injury or during conditions like gouty arthritis. Heat therapy is useful in relaxing tight muscles, which are causing pain by increasing the blood flow to them.
This treatment is only useful for mild short-term pain. If the intensity or duration increases, then it is best to seek medical help.
Precautions to take while using pain relief medicines?
There are different kinds of pain medications available in the market, and each has its pros and cons. People who are willing to use these drugs should consult with their doctor to choose the best one for them and follow the doctor’s guidelines to avoid the possibility of severe side effects.
Some precautions that one must take while using these medicines are as follows:
Do not use these drugs without consulting a doctor.
Some of these medicines can be habit-forming, so it is best not to use them for longer than the prescribed period to avoid getting addicted.
Several drugs can interact with pain medications and cause the effects to increase, so one should tell the doctor about all the prescription and non-prescription medicines that they are taking before using these drugs.
Some physical and mental health conditions can also increase or decrease the effects of these medicines on the body.
Do not mix them with alcohol or similar intoxicating substances, as that can result in increased side effects.
Older people and children can be more sensitive to the effects of these drugs, so their dosage should be carefully controlled.
These medicines, especially opioids, can have adverse effects on the health of infants, so pregnant ladies and those who are breastfeeding should refrain from using them.