Pain is one of the most common responses when something hurts and something is not right in the natural state of our body. It is an uncomfortable and unpleasant sensation that the brain perceives when the body is suffering from an injury or illness signalling that you should do something to correct it. There are plenty of situations in our daily lives that can cause pain like headaches, backaches, cuts, broken bones, or pulled muscles amongst many others.
Oftentimes, the pain only inflicts discomfort for a short period of time especially when the injury is not serious. Pain is characterized by throbbing, stabbing, aching, pinching or steady sensation that can be mild or severe. It depends on factors such as the cause, intensity, and the affected area. People’s perception and tolerance of pain vary from person to person. An intense pain caused by a sprained elbow may be bearable to someone while for someone else, it is an excruciating sensation. This is due to the brain’s reaction to the pain signals sent by the nerve fibres in our body.
Acute and Chronic Pain
Pain that easily goes away is called acute pain. This usually begins suddenly and has a sharp sensation caused by events such as trauma, surgery, dental works, burns, cuts, or strain which disappears when the underlying cause of the pain has healed. It may last for a short period of time or longer but not more than six months and when it disappears, life goes back to usual without any discomfort.
On the other hand, pain that is ongoing and lasts for more than six months is categorized as chronic pain. This pain continues even when the injury or illness has been treated, and the nerve receptors continue to fire pain signals in the nervous system for months, even years. Usual conditions linked to chronic pain include arthritis, cancer, nerve pain, fibromyalgia, and many more.
According to the Central for Disease Control and Prevention in a study conducted in 2019, 20.4% of adults are experiencing chronic pain wherein 7.4% suffer from chronic pain that most of the time affects their life and work activities which can be referred to as high impact chronic pain.
When you feel hurt every day, it creates a great impact on your emotional and physical well-being like in the case of Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS). This condition includes symptoms more than pain such as depression and anxiety resulting in stress that can make you feel pain differently. Aside from the emotional effects of stress, your body can also feel muscle tension, limited ability to move, low levels of energy, and change in appetite.
While there are many pain medicines available pharmaceutically, the most common drugs for its management are Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). Many of these painkillers are over-the-counter, being aspirin and ibuprofen as the two most popular generic names. OTC NSAIDs are usually used to treat less severe types of pain but if it does not relieve your discomfort, your doctor may prescribe stronger medicines such as opioids or narcotics. These kinds of drugs require strict compliance with proper use due to the fact that they can cause serious side effects like slowed breathing which can lead to overdose deaths. Because it is so effective, users are at high risk of dependence and addiction.
Long-term use of these medications has disadvantages. In time, users might develop tolerance and hyperalgesia, unreliable efficacy in more difficult to treat pain, severe gastrointestinal and central nervous system side effects. For people who want to go for natural remedies for pain, there are many available medicinal herbs that nature can offer. Some of these natural painkillers include turmeric, capsaicin, cannabidiol (CBD), and many more which are known to have powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects.
To help you cope when cutting back on the doses or stopping the use of pharmaceutical drugs, there are options in managing pain that may help either alone or in combination with. Some of which includes:
Cold and Heat. After an injury, a cold compress helps relieve pain, inflammation, and muscle spasm. Also known as cryotherapy, cold therapy reduces blood flow in the affected area resulting in decreased swelling, and can also reduce nerve activity which in turn relieves pain. On the other hand, heat increases the pain threshold and relaxes the muscles. Heat therapy improves blood circulation in the affected area through high temperature that soothes the discomfort and helps with the fast recovery of the damaged tissue.
Topical Pain Relievers. Topical medications come in many forms such as balms, creams, and ointments. It is applied to the skin for targeted pain relief. There are plenty of natural ingredients that are infused in topicals that are known for their positive effects in pain management. One of which is turmeric that is known to reduce inflammation, peppermint that aside from being a pain reliever also has a muscle-relaxing effect, cannabidiol (CBD) that is popular due to its wide variety of therapeutic effects which includes pain-relieving effect, anti-inflammatory, and relaxing properties that are said to work in the brain receptors that offer powerful relief to its users, and many more natural essential oils. Aside from topical solutions, CBD is also available in various forms, such as capsules, edibles like CBD gummies, tinctures, vapes, etc.
Therapeutic Massage. This method helps in the relaxation of muscles, joints, and tendons which in turn reduce pain in the affected area while promoting stress and anxiety relief. Many massage oils in the market are infused with natural ingredients such as capsaicin, cannabidiol, turmeric and peppermint similar to topical pain relievers that contribute to providing enhanced effects.
Exercise. This method works best on people with common pains such as back pain, arthritis, or fibromyalgia. Keeping active and moving the affected area increases its strength and flexibility, decreases inflammation, and reduces overall pain levels.
Weight Loss. Losing weight can help relieve pain due to the fact that many painful health conditions are related to excess weight. Studies show that reduction in weight decreases pain, especially when dealing with joint pain.
Pain indeed has a huge impact on our daily lives. While it is inevitable to occur, there are many options to treat and relieve it. If you are experiencing pain, you need to listen to your body and know when you should seek medical attention to avoid further damage and unpleasant sensations. It is important to take note that proper usage of medications should always be strictly followed.
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