Pain can originate in any part of the body. It can be a symptom of an injury or illness or a warning that something is seriously wrong. People experience pain in very different ways and respond to treatments differently also. Pain is a sensory experience that can include throbbing, pulsating, stabbing or agonizing sensations. The nerve pathways in the body communicate with the brain, telling it that a part or parts of the body are compromised in some way. It can be as simple as a dull headache or toothache, or pain can be an indicator that serious injury or disease is at play. In terms of physical pain, a person can experience minor setbacks but continue to perform everyday duties. When pain is persistent or chronic, people can develop anxiety, depression, fear or even suicidal thoughts. Their mobility and lifestyle can be limited in a way that is hard to deal with. Patients who feel there is no escape from pain can become despondent and withdrawn.
The field of pain management has made several very promising advances over the last several decades. People do have options when it comes to treating pain, and relief is possible. But not all of them are effective for people. Many try several different therapies or medicines before finding something that works. Over-the-counter medication works well for some people with mild to moderate pain. Prescription painkillers are another popular option to treat moderate to severe pain. In fact, the number of prescriptions being written by physicians has skyrocketed in recent years. However, there is a downside to opiate-based painkillers – taking them can become habitual and this can lead to physical and/or psychological opiate dependence.
Pain, especially chronic pain, has many quality of life implications. People who suffer from migraines, arthritis or degenerative conditions can find that their lives and their ability to navigate through the world is limited. There is light at the end of the tunnel for people with acute pain – or pain that develops but eventually goes away when the injury has healed or illness has been treated. They know their pain will eventually end. Others are not so lucky and may need to try several options before finding something that works.