From headaches to broken bones, the sensation of pain is subjective and everyone tends to experience it differently, making it somewhat difficult to treat. Some patients may even experience chronic pain despite the absence of a specific physical cause (called neuropathic pain).
However, pain management techniques can help relieve patients of both acute and chronic pain, which is an important part of the healing and rehabilitation process. Left untreated, pain may leave a patient vulnerable to psychological distress. It can also affect a patient’s immune system and ability to exercise.
Management of both acute and chronic pain begins with an assessment of the kind and source of pain experience by the patient. The intensity and duration of the pain also help determine the appropriate pain management strategy.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications—ranging from aspirin to antidepressants to steroid injections—are commonly used for pain management. But drug therapy may not be wholly effective. Because pain is experienced physically and emotionally, pain management approaches need to address the whole patient, not just the pain itself.
Depending on the type and location of their pain, patients can turn to physical therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy for management of their pain, and/or alternative therapies—such as acupuncture, meditation, natural herbal remedies, and even Botox—for pain management.