Understanding Pain

Pain often has a negative effect on a person’s quality of life and could hinder recovery from surgery, injury or illness. Managing pain effectively and properly aids in the recovery and improves the person’s quality of life.

In America alone more than 86 million people suffer from pain every day and about 80% of American people will suffer from back pain at least once in their life. Pain in general and back pain specified is the most common reason for people to seek medical care. There are many causes of acute or chronic back pain such as back strain, spinal stenosis and osteoporosis. There are different types of pain and so there are many different aspects of pain management.

The source of pain can be from back injuries, car accidents, sports injuries, surgery or from health conditions such as arthritis, shingles, migraines and cancer. Sometimes, there is no apparent cause, injury or trauma that people can attribute to the source of their pain but working with a pain specialist can diagnose and manage your pain.

Mostly pain is classified in acute or chronic pain. The difference is that acute pain comes suddenly and often feels sharp or burning. In most cases acute pain can be resolved quickly but it shows that there is something wrong, which should be looked at. It is important to treat acute pain right away to prevent it from becoming chronic.

Causes of acute pain include:

  1. Broken bones (spinal vertebral fracture)
  2. Burns or cuts
  3. Certain diseases
  4. Dental work
  5. Labor and childbirth
  6. Soft tissue injury, such as whiplash
  7. Surgical pain (post-operative pain)

Chronic pain on the other hand is pain that lasts longer and doesn’t come suddenly. It is more difficult to treat because it takes a multi-disciplinary approach with various specialists included. Chronic pain can be very hard for the patient because it affects the patient on a physically and emotionally level.

Causes of chronic pain can include:

  1. Arthritis (osteoarthritis)
  2. Cancer
  3. Degenerative disc disease and other spinal disorders
  4. Nerve dysfunction (with or without nerve damage)
  5. Soft tissue injury, such as trauma from a fall or motor vehicle accident
  6. Unresolved disease or injury (psychogenic pain)

It is not always possible to categorize the pain in acute or chronic, sometimes pain can be a mix of both. However the treatments for acute or chronic pain is as diverse as the cause of the pain and the pain itself.

A pain management specialist is trained in determine the cause of pain and to understand how pain messages are sent to the central nervous system, including the spinal cord. The goal for pain specialists is to relieve the intensity and frequency of the patient’s pain so that the patient is able to participate in normal daily activities and exercise.