The type of pain relief you choose depends on the pain itself. For example, pain medicine such as painkillers are ideal for headaches or joint pain, whereas you may need prescription medications for relieving pain for more intense injuries or conditions.
If your pain is caused by damaged nerves, such as with sciatica, then you’ll require specific medication that alters the way the central nervous system works. However, whatever pain relief you use, the goal is to improve your quality of life and enable you to go about your day-to-day routines without discomfort.
What Is Classified As Pain?
Everyone experiences pain from time to time, but the intensity and the duration of those painful experiences can vary considerably from person to person. You may have pain from an injury or accident, which can be short term, or you might have long-term pain which is known as chronic pain.
Pain can be sharp and intense, such as a stinging sensation or shooting pains, or it might be a duller sensation such as a throbbing, stiffness or an aching feeling. Pain can be constant or sporadic, and it can affect other areas of your life such as your ability to walk for long periods of time, or your ability to exercise or sleep. In these instances, pain medicine is often prescribed to help you deal with your pain.
What Causes Pain?
Pain can be caused by a number of conditions or issues, but the way we experience pain is via the nervous system. When there’s damage, irritation or inflammation in the body, the pain sensors send electrical signals to the brain that is translated as pain. The brain acts as a control centre, sending pain strength signals back depending on the intensity or where the pain is located. When the issue is resolved or healed, the signals stop, and you don’t feel pain anymore.
However, with chronic pain, such as for conditions such as IBD, arthritis or diabetes, the pain signals are continuous. Likewise, you may have pain because of nerve damage, an injury caused by a previous accident or fibromyalgia.
What Are The Types Of Pain We Can Feel?
There are several types of pain. Acute pain includes a lack of energy, limited mobility and tense or tight muscles, whereas chronic pain can include the likes of headaches, nerve damage, lower back pain or joint pain. A common form of pain is nociceptive pain which is caused by the stimulation of nociceptors – pain receptors for tissue damage. Cuts or injuries to your skin and internal organs trigger this type of pain.
Visceral pain results from damage to your internal organs and you’ll feel this in your chest, abdomen and pelvis, but it can be hard to locate the exact area of visceral pain. With this type of pain, you may experience pressure or aching, a squeezing sensation or cramping. Somatic pain affects your skin, muscles, joints and bones, and it can feel like a continual ache or gnawing sensation – you may experience this type of pain from scrapes and burns to the skin, strained muscles, bone fractures or joint pain.
Finally, neuropathic pain is caused by damage to the nervous system, and it can seemingly come out of nowhere from activities or actions that normally don’t cause pain, such as cold temperatures or clothing against your skin.
Popular Pain Relief Treatments
If you’re experiencing pain, there are several pain relief drugs you can use to control your pain levels. Painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin are common options and these can be helpful for managing pain from the likes of headaches or period pain.
Paracetamol: Paracetamol is used for headaches and non-nerve pain, and you can take 2 500mg tablets up to four times per day – don’t exceed more than 8 tablets in a 24-hour period.
Ibuprofen: Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication that can work well for inflammatory conditions, such as joint pain or arthritis. However, don’t use this type of pain relief drug for long periods unless you have the approval of your GP. Likewise, pregnant women shouldn’t use Ibuprofen.
Aspirin: Aspirin is a similar type of drug that produces similar effects to Ibuprofen, but it’s not as effective for pain relief.
Codeine: Finally, Codeine is a drug that works most effectively when used with paracetamol – this will be packaged as co-codamol. However, this medication is not designed to be taken long-term, as it can be addictive.
If you need medications for relieving pain associated with other conditions, such as for migraine relief, it’s worth speaking to your GP who can prescribe a stronger dose of painkillers to manage your symptoms.
When To See Your Doctor
If you’re finding that your symptoms are not subsiding, despite completing the course of medication, or you’ve noticed side effects from the pain medication you’re on, contact your GP. For example, if you’ve been taking paracetamol for three days without seeing signs of improvement, speak to your doctor for further advice.