Types of Pain
Pain is generally a term used to describe any discomfort or unpleasant sensation in the body. There are eight types of pain and are as follows:
Acute pain begins suddenly and persists for a short period, like minutes, hours, or a couple of days.
Chronic pain lasts for more than six months. It begins as acute pain but continues even after the injury heals.
Breakthrough pain is a sudden, sharp increase in pain in those already under medications for chronic pain.
Bone pain is the tenderness or discomfort in single or multiple bones while exercising or rest.
Nerve pain occurs due to damage or inflammation of a nerve. The pain may be burning, sharp, shooting, or stabbing.
Phantom pain is like pain arriving from a part of the body that does not exist. For example, it is common in people who have a limb amputated.
Soft tissue pain happens due to damage or inflammations in tissues, muscles, or ligaments. It is associated with inflammation and bruising.
Referred pain comes from a specific area due to injury or swelling in another organ. An example includes pain due to a heart attack often felt near the neck, left shoulder, and downward portion of the right arm.
Types of Pain Medications
Pain medicines are the drugs used to reduce the pain related to injury, disease, or surgery. Since the pain process is complicated, different drugs give the relief through alteration in the physiological mechanism. Hence, the medicine for nerve pain has a different mechanism from those used for arthritis pain.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: These medications ease the pain due to fever, muscle ache, and body stiffness. They also assist in reducing swelling and irritation. In addition, they act by decreasing the production of prostaglandins, a hormone responsible for pain and swelling. Regular use of NSAIDs in high doses increases the risks for heart attack or stroke and may also cause ulcers, stomach bleeding, and kidney problems. Some examples of NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and diclofenac gel.
Corticosteroids: These drugs reduce the pain from the inflamed portion of the body by reducing the swelling, itching, redness, and allergic reactions. They are often used for treating asthma, allergies, and arthritis. They are available as pills or injections. A few examples include prednisolone, prednisone, and methylprednisolone.
Acetaminophen: It acts on the region of the brain that gets the pain signals. It reduces the pain related to fever, inflammations, and muscle aches. However, regular intake of this drug at high doses leads to liver problems and can cause a medical emergency. An example of acetaminophen is Tylenol.
Opioids: These are known as narcotic analgesics and include natural, semi-synthetic, and synthetic opiates. Opioids are used for acute or short-term pain after surgery. They are also effective against severe pain without causing stomach bleeding or bleeding from any other parts. Since they are addictive, doctors try to find substitutes while prescribing those medicines. In rare cases, people get addicted to it when used for just short durations. Examples of opioids are morphine, codeine, oxycodone-acetaminophen (Percocet), fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone-acetaminophen (Vicodin).
Antidepressants: These drugs can cure pain or any emotional condition by altering the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. They increase the accessibility of the body signals to provide relaxation, aiding in pain control for people suffering from chronic pain. A few examples include tricyclic antidepressants like desipramine (Norpramin), nortriptyline (Pamelor), amitriptyline, and doxepin (Silenor). Other examples include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (Celexa), sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors like venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta).
Anticonvulsants: They are used for treating seizures. They act by minimizing the effects of nerves responsible for pain. A few examples include pregabalin (Lyrica), carbamazepine (Tegretol), topiramate (Topomax), and gabapentin (Neurontin).
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