Types of Pain and Treatment/Management


Everyone experiences pain every once in a while. It is either pain due to injury, headache, stomach ache, toothache, etc. But what most people experience is acute pain which subsides when the injury heals or when the underlying cause of pain is treated. About 10 percent of people, however, suffer from chronic pain which persists for months and in some cases for years. Its severity ranges from slight annoyance to disabling pain which seriously interferes with the sufferer’s daily life, relationship with other people and ability to work/study.

Pain is not a disease but a symptom of an underlying condition, prior injury that has not healed properly or nerve damage but it can also occur for no apparent reason. While chronic pain which is a result of injury can sometimes be successfully treated with surgery, pain which is caused by a chronic, incurable condition such as migraine, arthritis, osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, etc., unfortunately tends to persist or even worsen over time. When the underlying cause of pain cannot be cured, pain is relieved by management of the underlying condition and various pain management therapies which help control the pain and improve the sufferer’s quality of life.

Management of chronic pain typically involves a complex approach which bases on a close collaboration of medical practitioners, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and psychologists in order to develop a long term management plan. It does not make the pain go away and the sufferer typically continues to experience it to a certain degree. Patients with chronic pain are typically also prescribed pain medications which are selected according to the patient’s underlying condition, the overall health and severity of the pain. The most commonly used pain relievers include acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and topical corticosteroids which help control mild to moderate pain. Severe pain, on the other hand, is managed with prescription pain medications which include corticosteroids, anticonvulsants, antidepressants and opioids.

Since all pain medications can cause side effects, especially if used for prolonged periods of time, people who suffer from chronic pain should strictly follow their plan for management of the underlying condition. If the underlying cause of pain is brought under control, the pain as its symptom is more likely to subside or go away completely. Instead of taking pain medications, the patients should also try to relieve mild to moderate pain with simple home remedies such as massage, cold/warm compresses or/and exercise for instance.

Some chronic pain patients use alternative treatments such as chiropractic, acupuncture, herbal remedies, homoeopathy, etc. Although many people report experiencing relief, it is highly important for the patients to be aware that alternative treatments are not scientifically proven to be effective or/and safe. They can worsen the symptoms of the underlying condition including the pain, cause side effects (especially herbal remedies) which can be dangerous and interact with medications. There are, however, a few alternative treatments which are generally considered safe and according to the mainstream medical practitioners, they can do no harm. Nevertheless, alternative pain treatments/therapies must not be started without a prior doctor’s permission.