Easy Ways To Manage Pain
Probably one of the worst things to feel in the world, pain is an unpleasant experience that results from any actual or possible damage to the body.
Pain may be experienced in different forms and levels of severity, depending mainly on the person’s level of tolerance for it.
Types of pain
There are two main types of pain – nociceptive and neuropathic pain.
Nociceptive pain is experienced when there is an actual injury or damage to the body. The body sends signals to the brain and the person becomes aware of the injury and the source of the pain (e.g. back, leg or arm).
Neuropathic pain is experienced when there isn’t an obvious source of pain, but the body tells the brain that an injury is present (e.g. numbness or tingling sensation at the tip of the fingers).
Common types of pain include:
- Headaches or migraine
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Pain from injuries (e.g. sprain, cramps)
Managing the pain with painkillers
Depending on the type and severity of pain, different types of painkillers may be used to relieve pain.
Over-the-counter topical painkillers containing counterirritants can provide relief by producing a less severe pain to counter the more intense one.
Gels and plasters containing Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) also exert their pain-killing and anti-inflammatory properties on the affected area and relieve mild to moderate pain.
After applying a topical painkiller, do not cover with tight bandages. Pharmacy-only medications like piroxicam and ketoprofen, which are types of NSAIDs, can also effectively relieve pain.
A familiar oral painkiller is paracetamol, a medication that relieves mild to moderate pain. If the patient is above 16 years of age, he/she can also consume aspirin, an NSAID. Other NSAIDs can also be dispensed by a pharmacist for the relief of pain and inflammation.
Do inform your pharmacist of your existing health condition or if you are currently taking other medications.
Caring for the pain on your own
Self-caring for pain is possible when the pain involves muscles or joints. Practise ‘PRICE’ immediately after an injury to minimise the pain.
|Protect||Protect the injured area from further trauma|
|Rest||Rest the injured area|
|Ice||Use cold therapy to relieve pain and reduce swelling|
|Compress||Compress the injured area|
|Elevation||Elevate the injured area above heart level|
Other ways of self-caring include applying heat therapy to reduce stiffness and cold therapy to reduce swelling and the use of supportive devices to provide support.
Rather than seeking a way to relieve pain, it’s always better to avoid experiencing it in the first place.
Here’s how you do it:
- When standing, maintain a proper posture and avoid standing for a prolonged period of time
- Use a back support or pillow to maintain the back’s normal curve when sitting
- Keep your back straight and bend the knees to position your body when lifting objects. Do not lift and twist your body at the same time.
- To avoid getting a headache, or to lower the frequency of headaches, refrain from taking too much caffeine
- Get sufficient rest and it may reduce the occurrence of headaches
- If you’re a smoker, you should consider quitting. Carbon monoxide present in a burning cigarette can trigger headaches.
When to consult a doctor
You will need to see your doctor if you need stronger painkillers, medication for neuropathic pain or experience any of the following.
- The pain has persisted for more than 1 week with treatment
- The pain is becoming more intense or is affecting your sleep and quality of life
- The pain is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, high fever or infection
- The patient is pregnant, breast-feeding or is less than 2 years old