What are the Types of Pain Management?

April 5, 2022 | Brain and Spine Specialists

Pain is a basic human instinct that is characterized by nerves responding to external or internal stimuli in a way that the brain can recognize and process. This instinct plays a critical role in human survival but can sometimes do more harm than good. Being highly subjective, pain can fall anywhere from mild or debilitating to localized or generalized and can be constant, acute, irregular, or even chronic in some cases. The level of pain experienced varies from person to person and should be evaluated with the patient’s unique medical history and overall health as a guiding factor in diagnosis.

Types of Pain Management

When it comes to managing your pain, there are many different options depending on the type of pain, severity of the pain, pain occurrence or frequency, and other individual health factors. Depending on your diagnosis and the previously mentioned factors, your doctor may recommend medication for treatment, non-medication treatment options, or a combination of both.

Medication for Pain Relief

Though it may seem like the quickest and easiest method of pain management, medicine doesn’t always work for some patients. As a rule of thumb, you should always consult your doctor before starting any new medications as some have serious side effects and may interfere with any currently taken medications or pre-existing health conditions.

Over the Counter Pain Medication

In many first aid kits, you can more than likely find an over-the-counter analgesic or pain medication. These pain management or relief options are sometimes helpful for very short-term treatment of mild to moderate pain. Tylenol, a medication in the acetaminophen family, is often the first recommendation from doctors for patients with mild headaches, fevers, or mild muscle aches.

Another common form of over-the-counter pain medications is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs for short. Commonly known as Ibuprophen, these medications are best for short-term use and are effective at reducing swelling while reducing pain.

Prescription Pain Medication

Prescription pain medication is usually prescribed and recommended for patients with severe to chronic pain. These medications can create a physical dependence and should only be used under a doctor’s prescribed dosage. The most common group of prescription pain medications are Opioids, commonly known as Oxycodone, Morphine, and Codeine. These medications are widely known to impair your ability to drive and operate heavy machinery and should be taken with care.

Another type of prescription medication for pain management also serves as an antidepressant and medication for epilepsy. These medications are typically only prescribed for patients experiencing moderate to chronic nerve pain.

Non-medication Treatments for Pain Relief

Medication isn’t the only way to manage pain. In fact, when combining multiple forms of non-medicine treatment, we often see great progress with patients’ pain levels. There are a few methods of this treatment type that can either be used together or individually based on the patient’s pain type and severity.

Hot and Cold Therapy

For pain caused by injury or swelling, heating pads and ice packs are great tools. The cold temperature is efficient at relieving inflammation while heat is generally better at relieving muscle and/or joint pain.

Physical Therapy

Patients that are good candidates for physical therapy can best manage pain by working with a therapist doing stretches and aerobic exercises to build back strength.

Massage Therapy

An effective form of physical therapy for pain management is massage therapy. Best suited for soft tissue injuries rather than joint pain, massage therapy can target both localized and generalized mild to moderate pain. This form of non-medicine treatment is best for short-term treatment and is not effective for all types of pain.

When To See a Doctor About Pain Management

Though it is a basic human nervous response, pain should not be something that keeps you from enjoying and living your life to the fullest. With the modern advancements in medicine and non-medicine treatments, there is almost always something we can find to ease if not rid our patients of their pain whether it be acute or chronic. Schedule a pain management consultation with the experts at Brain and Spine Specialists to get back to doing the things you love and living a pain-free life!