How important is it for Baby Boomers to understand pain management?
For one, it is no secret that the Baby Boomers are aging, and this means they are more susceptible to pain.
With arthritis, joint pains, back problems, or even just general aches and pains from time to time, it becomes necessary for many of them to manage their pain in order to enjoy life.
Pain is not something that anyone wants to experience, but unfortunately, it’s a part of life.
This article covers everything you need to know about pain management so that you can live a healthy life without being limited or hampered by painful conditions!
What is Pain?
For the first time since 1979, the International Association for the Study of Pain or IASP introduced a revised definition of pain.
This is the result of a two-year process that the association hopes will lead to revised ways of assessing pain.
The most recent definition of pain is:
“An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with an actual or potential tissue damage.”
Chronic pain is a major problem for many baby boomers.
Unfortunately, pain management may seem like an impossible task due to the confusing variety of pain treatment options that are available.
All the more it is necessary to know what pain is and how pain can be managed before you start trying different treatments.
Here are some basic facts about pain:
- Pain is your brain and body’s way of communicating with each other, whether there is a real or perceived threat to your body.
- Chronic pain happens when your nervous system gets used to feeling painful sensations.
- Pain can be hard to manage. However it can be managed, if not cured.
Why Do Individuals Feel Pain Differently?
Pain is a genuine, undeniable fact.
But pain is subjective and unique to each individual based on that person’s perception of the discomfort.
This is why everyone’s suffering is different.
Emotions have a powerful impact on what the brain comprehends.
This means that someone who is afraid of pain, sad, or nervous may feel pain in a different and perhaps more severe way…
than someone who is suffering from discomfort but is not experiencing any of those additional feelings.
What Are the Different Types of Pain?
There are many different types of pain, and pain management must be tailored to the individual. Some common types of pain include:
– Acute pain: This is short-term pain that may be caused by an injury or surgery. It usually subsides once the injury heals.
– Chronic pain: This is long-term or persistent pain that persists even after the initial injury has healed. It can be very debilitating and interfere with everyday activities.
– Neuropathic pain: This type of pain results from damage to or dysfunction of the nervous system. Neuropathic pain can cause burning, tingling, or electric shock sensations.
– Cancer pain: Pain related to cancer diagnoses or treatment side effects.
Pain Management: Treating Mind and Body
It’s critical to consider people as whole persons when dealing with pain, both physically and emotionally.
And it is important to think of pain management as treating “people as total human beings.”
Not as painful body parts.
While pain medications may be useful and beneficial for many people with pain, it isn’t the only tool available when it comes to treating pain, and it shouldn’t be the only one used.
What Types of Medications Are Used For Pain?
There are numerous medicines available for pain, although opioids and benzodiazepines aren’t always the finest choices.
The most common adverse effects of these medications include addiction, sedation, constipation, and nausea.
There are multiple research on the negative consequences of long-term opioid usage in the treatment of chronic pain.
Types of pain medicine commonly used include:
- NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin, are anti-inflammatory medications that have been linked to an increased risk of gastrointestinal complications.
- Acetaminophen like Tylenol is a type of pain medication used to treat pain and fever.
- Antidepressants, which are not considered a type of pain medication, but has been found to improve sleep and alleviate pain.
- Anti-seizure medicines, which can help with nerve pain or damage, are also effective in treating discomfort associated with nerve damage or injury.
- Corticosteroids, such as dexamethasone and prednisone, are also often used to relieve pain and inflammation.
What Types of Therapy Are Used for Pain?
Therapy can be aimed at both the mind and the body.
Try to think of any of these treatments as being a combination of physical, psychological, and social therapy.
The latest research and evidence support the use of the biopsychosocial model of treatment as the most effective treatment for chronic pain conditions.
- Physical therapy is an essential component of any pain management plan.
Pain can be exacerbated by exercise or physical activities that aren’t performed correctly (or interpreted as discomfort rather than overuse), and a physical therapist may help you create the best workout program or modify your activities of daily living.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT helps people better understand their pain and what they can do about it by teaching them how to figure out what the source of discomfort is and how to manage their response and behavior toward the pain.
Understanding the significance of pain in your life and what it truly implies for you is at the heart of this treatment.
What Are Other Pain Management Options?
There are a number of tools and methodologies that may be used to help you cope with the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of pain, including:
- TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) – a type of therapy that uses electrodes to deliver low-level electric current to the nerves for pain control and modulation.
- Meditation and Relaxation Techniques – these techniques are used in conjunction with breathing techniques, yoga postures, acupressure points, and progressive relaxation methods.
- Visual Imagery – an example could be as basic as thinking about a calming environment to help lower down your body’s sensitivity to pain.
- Biofeedback methods – teaches you to control muscular tension, temperature, heart rate, and other factors.
- Heat and cold treatments.
- Soft tissue manipulation and massage.
An Innovative Way to Treat Pain
Empowered Relief™ is an evidence-based, single-session pain class that rapidly equips patients with pain management skills.
Empowered Relief™ was developed by Beth Darnall, PhD, and has been embedded into clinical pathways at Stanford University since 2013.
The positive early scientific findings from Empowered Relief resulted in a major NIH investment to further examine the benefits and mechanisms of this single-session pain alleviation session.
In August 2021, JAMA Network Open published the findings of an NIH-funded clinical trial in adults with chronic low back pain (read the full scientific report here).
According to the study, single-session sessions resulted in significant and long-term benefits across multiple outcomes at 3 months post-treatment (pain intensity, pain interference, pain catastrophizing, pain bothersomeness, anxiety, depression, sleep disturbance, and fatigue).
You can find a directory of certified Empowered Relief™️ instructors here.
Yes, we aren’t guaranteed lives without pain.
But get help for your pain as soon as it begins to interfere with your daily life.
And, when chronic pain begins to handicap your capacity to function in the world, it’s time to take action.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Many Americans Live With Pain?
The majority of Americans, some 58.9 percent of individuals over the age of eighteen, are suffering from pain.
According to a study published by the National Center for Health Statistics, back pain is the most prevalent type of pain in the United States, affecting almost two out of every five people during the previous three months.
What Is A Pain Scale?
A pain scale is a way you can rate your pain when talking to your doctor, other health care professionals, or even friends and family.
There are many distinct types of pain scales, but the most common is a 0-10 numerical scale.
- Mild discomfort is indicated by a score of one to three.
- Moderate discomfort is rated at four to seven.
- Severe pain has an eight rating or higher.
Pain scales are based on self-reported data, which means it is what you say – which admittedly is a very subjective process.
After all, what you think of as a “four” might be someone else’s idea of an “eight.”
But the value of using a pain scale is that you get to see your ratings over time with the idea of comparing them to other people’s ratings.
You can use a pain scale to find out what is making your pain worse.
For example, if you are less active, or if you starting a new pain treatment, the pain might get better or worse based on your pain scale.
How to Talk About Your Pain?
Even though your doctor uses a pain scale like 0-10, you would want to provide him/her with more information by being descriptive and precise.
Here are other ways to talk about your pain:
- Think about the worst pain you have ever felt. Now think about the pain you’re experiencing. Is your pain worse than this?
Have you ever had a baby, gotten kidney stones, or had a bad bone fracture?
Comparing your chronic pain to the worst pain you have ever had can help you and your doctor understand how much it is hurting.
- Give an example of an activity that would hurt if it were done while you were in pain.
How does physical activity (or exercise) impact your pain?
Do you have better or worse pain when you do physical activities or exercises?
What time of day is your discomfort the worst, and how can this be changed?
- Talk about how your pain impacts your life. Do you have a hard time doing things you used to be able to do?
Doctors may not be able to catch all of your pain on a 0-10 scale.
On the other hand, talking in terms of qualitative details, instead of numbers, can make it easier for your doctor to understand the context of your pain experience.
What Is the Effect of Prolonged Opioid Use?
With prolonged use of opioid pain medications, your body will adapt to these drugs and develop increasing tolerance to their effects.
Increasing drug tolerance means that you will need a higher dose of the drug to achieve the same level of response or relief your body achieved when you first started taking it.
The more you use the drug, the more your body builds a need for higher doses to feel any effect.
Dr. Lex Gonzales, PT, DPT is an author and speaker who has been working as a licensed healthcare professional for over 24 years. On drlexgonzales.com he provides quality information and practical solutions you can use to achieve the best version of your healthy self.