Pain: causes, complications, cures

It is a precious alarm signal that warns us when something is wrong in a point of our body.

What is pain

Pain is a precious alarm signal that warns us when something is wrong in a point of our body (a wound, a contusion, a burn, a tear, joint inflammation, etc.).

In practice, it warns us that we must remedy it, stop focusing on what we were doing and focusing on the part affected by the damage.

In these cases it is “acute” pain, ie of limited duration in time, which tends to disappear when the wound begins to heal or keeping at rest the muscle or joint compromised by trauma or overloaded by an effort.

Sometimes, however, pain appears without an apparent cause, that is, it is not an alarm bell of something that is being done, but it is the signal of something already in place. In this case it will not be a sudden discharge, but a more suffocated and persistent latent pain, called chronic pain.

Classification of pain

Depending on the intensity, the pain may be mild, moderate or severe. Depending on the sensations it causes, these are the different types of pain:

  • burning pain
  • dull pain
  • piercing pain
  • gravitated pain.

Causes of pain

Pain and nerve receptors

At the base of acute pain there is invariably the too intense or prolonged solicitation of peripheral nerve receptors of sensitivity (the same ones that normally allow us, for example, to feel that an object is hot or cold and that someone is touching our shoulder) or, if the stimulus is particularly strong, of specific pain receptors.

In the case of chronic pain, however, it is difficult to identify the triggering cause.

Acute and chronic pain are also distinguished by the way in which they manifest themselves:

Type of pain Features
Throe It appears suddenly, has a limited duration in time and tends to disappear with rest
Chronic pain It manifests itself as latent, stifled and persistent pain

Inflammatory pain

Another type of pain, which can occur alone or together with acute pain, is inflammatory pain.

In this case, it is caused by the action of prostaglandins: substances that initiate and sustain a spontaneous inflammatory reaction or one associated with a specific pathology, such as:

Neuropathic pain

A third type of pain is neuropathic pain, which is triggered by persistent damage or irritation of a nerve ending or branch of a nerve, such as occurs in:

  • diabetic neuropathy
  • trigeminal neuralgia
  • dental sensitivity.

Complications

If not treated immediately, pain tends to get worse by increasing intensity and persisting longer because the stimulation of the first receptors affected by trauma, neuralgia or inflammation generates secondary solicitation circuits of nearby pain receptors, amplifying the unease.

The cure

To relieve pain, you can rely on both natural and pharmacological remedies. 

Natural remedies for pain

There are several plants useful for counteracting pain, such as:

Heat can also help. For example, in case of , among the most used natural remedies there are self-heating patches, which help relax contracted muscles. Postural gymnastics is also useful: the benefits for the back, neck and shoulders will soon be evident and the rest of the body will also regain its taste for balance.

Finally, pay attention also to the link between pain and sleep: disturbed sleep has been shown to amplify painful sensations.

Anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers

Acute mild to moderate pain from a known cause can be effectively relieved with over-the-counter preparations (to be taken by mouth or topically, such as muscle pain creams) of acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs ( NSAIDs ), such as acetylsalicylic acid, naproxen, or diclofenac. To find out which painkillers to choose from and how to use them, ask your doctor or trusted pharmacist.

When it is more marked and these remedies fail to ensure sufficient relief, the doctor can prescribe pain-relieving drugs  with a more marked analgesic effect . 

When to see your doctor

The doctor should always be consulted if the pain arises for no apparent reason, if from the beginning it is very intense or accompanied by other unclear symptoms and tends to recur often or for prolonged periods.

When the pain is associated with a known cause, such as trauma or overload of a muscle or joint, the doctor should be consulted if the symptom is not adequately relieved by over-the-counter analgesics and/or anti-inflammatory drugs and if it does not improve ( or gets worse) over 4 to 5 days.

If a child, an elderly person or a person who is already taking drugs for the treatment of specific pathologies is experiencing pain, before administering analgesics and/or anti-inflammatories (even over the counter) it is necessary to seek advice from the doctor.

Joycelyn Elders is the author and creator of EmpowerEssence, a health and wellness blog. Elders is a respected public health advocate and pediatrician dedicated to promoting general health and well-being.

The blog covers a wide range of topics related to health and wellness, with articles organized into several categories.

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