Managing Symptoms and Pain.
There are two main types of pain:
- Acute pain, or short-term pain, is pain that has started recently.
- Chronic, or long-term pain, is pain that has lasted for three months or
Whatever the cause of your pain, it's important that doctors and other
clinicians take you and your pain seriously. That's because pain is a
complicated, hard-to-treat problem, and the answer may not necessarily always be
stronger and stronger painkillers. The emotional consequences come not just from
the pain, but from how the pain changes the way we live and how we think about
ourselves. It is important to discuss this with your specialist or GP.
Over the counter and prescribed painkillers are used for pain relief see Health: Thank Goodness for Modern Painkillers to
understand the different kinds of painkillers and how to use them safely.
Physiotherapy is also used for musculoskeletal and other pain.
Alternative pain relief treatments include:
- Manipulation and holistic approaches to realign the body, such as
osteopaths and chiropractors use.
- Therapeutic massage, which also uses manipulation.
- Relaxation and meditation. Focusing on breathing to relax can have a big
impact on pain relief. You can learn these through Yoga, T’ai chi or
Pilates, or using a relaxation DVD.
- Visual imagery and distraction: Imagery involves concentrating on mental
pictures of pleasant scenes or events or mentally repeating positive words
or phrases to reduce pain. You can use DVD’s but usually you need to be
taught how to do this effectively.
- Hypnotherapy and behaviour modification techniques.
- Nerve stimulation such as TENS
- Acupuncture and other alternative treatments
These alternative treatments come under the umbrella of Complementary and
Alternative Medicine (CAM). Many people find these alternative approaches to
treating pain invaluable. Some are well recognised and regulated such as
chiropractors and osteopathy. Others like reiki or aromatherapy help you relax
or to feel pampered. For some of us they can quite literally feel like a
life-saver where we have tried everything the experts suggest. You do read in
the papers about some very costly alternative medicines and interventions that
are a serious cause of concern to mainstream medicine. Like everything else in
life there are people who will prey on your vulnerability, so you do need to be
careful. On the other hand some surgeries now have a recognised alternative
practitioner or counselling service on site, although usually not paid for by
the NHS. There is a very good explanation of CAM on the NHS Choices website: NHS - complementary and alternative medicine