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Health and Fitness News

Goodbye, Pain

Get safe and effective pain relief with these techniques.

Though unpleasant and typically unwanted, pain is important. It’s one of the body’s most important means of communication, warning you that something is wrong. And every pain is different. It may last for a second or for years; be described as aching, stabbing, steady, or throbbing; and be mild or severe.

When pain strikes, it may result in other physical symptoms such as dizziness, weakness, or nausea. Pain can even affect your emotions, making you more likely to be irritable, depressed, anxious, or angry. Battle debilitating pain and it can harm your relationships, job, and way of life.

No one likes to feel pain, and thankfully there are many effective ways to manage it by treating the source and alleviating symptoms.

OTC Pain Relievers

A headache, sore throat, or achy back? The first place people typically turn to find pain relief is over-the-counter drugs such as acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen. Acetaminophen targets pain receptors in the brain, while NSAIDS slow the body’s production of prostaglandins (hormones that cause pain). Both relieve pain, but NSAIDS also work to reduce inflammation and are therefore helpful at solving the root problem.

OTC topical pain relievers include lotions, creams, and sprays that relieve pain from arthritis or sore muscles.

Opioids

Opioids are a class of prescription pain relievers that are often prescribed for severe acute pain. Examples of opioids include morphine, hydrocodone, codeine, fentanyl, and oxycodone. While highly effective, opioids must be used with extreme caution. When used for chronic pain or abused, opioids can be highly addictive. They also come with negative side effects such as nausea, constipation, drowsiness, breathing problems, and itching. Before taking an opioid prescription, ask your physician if there is an alternative.

Corticosteroids

When part of the body is in pain due to swelling or an allergic reaction, corticosteroids may be prescribed in either a pill form or injection. Types of corticosteroids include prednisone, prednisolone, hydrocortisone, and methylprednisolone. Because corticosteroids are strong medications that come with potentially serious negative side effects, they should only be given in the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible length of time.

Antidepressants

Most often prescribed to treat depression, a low-dose antidepressant medication can also be used to treat chronic pain when other traditional pain relief methods fail. By encouraging neurotransmitter levels in the brain to reduce pain signals, antidepressants may be used to treat pain from arthritis, nerve damage, migraines, fibromyalgia, and more. Helpful as they can be, these are not instant cures, as it takes several weeks to notice their full effect.

Anticonvulsants

Anticonvulsant drugs are designed to treat seizure disorders, but may also be used to relieve pain. How they work is unclear, but they may reduce the number of pain signals sent between the brain and damaged nerves.

Cold and Heat

Sometimes pain management is as simple as applying cold or heat. An ice pack is best used for acute pain soon after an injury. Ice works to reduce inflammation and numb the pain by narrowing blood vessels. A hot compress or heating pad does the opposite. Heat increases blood flow to the area which helps relax tight muscles. Use heat when your pain has lasted a few weeks.

Other Methods

In some cases, physical therapy or electric nerve stimulation (known as TENS) may be a recommended method to relieve pain. TENS often gives instant relief but may not last, whereas physical therapy often requires weeks or even months to show full benefits that can last a lifetime.

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