Friday, December 9, 2011

How to Manage Pain and Find Relief

By Alex Smith

Pain is the body's way of communicating a problem. While unpleasant, without it, the human body would be incapable of self-protection, self-diagnosis, or even knowing that anything is wrong. People respond to pain in different ways, so one person's pain is another person's mild annoyance, and yet another person's incapacitating malady, but there are classifications for pain that are used in the medical field.

In the simplest terms, pain can fall into either the acute category or the chronic category. Acute pain comes on and lasts for a finite amount of time. A bee sting, for example, causes acute pain. Other tings that fall into the acute pain category are pulled muscles, broken bones, or other injuries.

Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer, and is harder to treat. Acute pain can usually be managed by pain medicines or hot or cold compresses, while chronic pain is usually associated with chronic illness, and is therefore more difficult to ease. Examples of chronic pain are the pain caused by fibromyalgia, arthritis, or other chronic illnesses.

No matter whether a person's pain is acute or chronic, it still hurts, and emotional factors can heavily impact a person's management of their pain. While acute pain can cause anxiety and stress, chronic pain can cause severe depression, because the person who suffers with it knows that the pain is not going to go away.

Many people who experience chronic pain manage it with pain medication. In many of these cases, the people experience breakthrough pain, where the pain emerges despite the proper doses of medication. This is dangerous, because it leads people into taking more drugs to manage the pain, even if it is not yet time for their next dose.

Both acute and chronic pain can both be further classified into one of two other categories - pain as a result of nerve damage and pain as a result of tissue damage. Tissue damage is the leading culprit for most acute pain types, though some chronic pain can also be related to tissue damage. Acute tissue damage pain can be caused by sprains, pulled muscles, and the like, though chronic tissue damage pain can occur in cancer patients, people with arthritis, and people with chronic headaches. Tissue damage pain is characterized by aches, sharp pains, and throbbing.

Nerve damage pain can be even further classified. Most types of nerve damage pain are chronic, rather than acute. There are a few exceptions, however. Nerve damage pain is characterized by burning, stabbing, or prickling, and the pain can be severe. One nerve damage pain classification is central pain syndrome, which is pain that comes from the central nervous system and is associated with MS, strokes, and tumors, and is made worse by temperature changes, movement, and even touch.

Another type of nerve pain is complex regional pain syndrome, which is chronic pain brought on by injury. Yet another type is diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain, which is pain caused by nerve damage to the legs, feet, arms, or hands and is a result of severe diabetes. This pain is characterized by numbness, tingling, burning, or stabbing.

Post herpetic neuralgia is nerve pain caused by shingles, which is an infection that is caused by the chicken pox virus. The pain travels along a nerve path, and is severe and debilitating in some people. This is one of the few nerve damage pains that is acute, because shingles do eventually go away.
Finally, trigeminal neuralgia is a nerve damage pain that is characterized by quick flashes of pain to different parts of one side of the face. It is caused by inflammation of a nerve in the face, and is usually set off by touch.

Once you can classify the type of pain you have, it is easier for a doctor to diagnose the problem so that you can find some relief. Self-diagnosis is always dangerous, however, so if you're dealing with pain, it's best to see a doctor.

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