Pain is a sensation triggered by the nervous system, usually as a response to an injury or illness. The pain sensation is unpleasant; it hurts and causes discomfort, and perhaps even agony.
Pain can be experienced in a variety of ways; from short and sharp, to dull and constant. Pain can serve a purpose - acting as a useful mechanism from which to diagnose health problems. Without pain, illnesses may go undetected, or injuries unnoticed.
Words that are commonly used to describe pain’s varying sensations include; stinging, burning, throbbing, shooting and aching.
Chronic pain describes the type of pain that persists long after the instigating injury or illness has healed.
In a lot of cases, chronic pain will have originated from a past trauma or infection. However, some sufferers experience chronic pain in the absence of previous physical injury or illness. Common examples of chronic pain include:
Chronic pain can cause a number of unpleasant physical effects including; tense muscles, lethargy, reduced mobility, and changes in appetite. Also, it can impact on a sufferer’s quality of life, which will likely result in a number of emotional effects too. These can include; depression, anxiety, and anger.
Paracetamol is classed as a simple analgesic. It relieves the symptoms of pain and reduces fever.
Paracetamol is used to treat many ailments where the pain is mild to moderate. It can effectively relieve the symptoms of; headache, muscle ache, toothache, backache, mild arthritis and cold and fevers. However, paracetamol is ineffective at reducing any underlying swelling and inflammation.
Certain medicines that are used to treat depression can also be effective at treating certain types of pain. Specifically, pain caused by damaged or sensitive nerves, such as shingles or sciatica. You don’t have to be depressed for these treatments to work. An example of an antidepressant commonly used for pain relief is Amitriptyline.
Other medicines can share a similar dual purpose, in the same way antidepressants do. For example, Gabapentin is an antiepileptic medicine, which is also an effective treatment for pain relief.
Both antidepressants and antiepileptic treatments are only available with a valid prescription from your doctor.
Your choice of pain relief will depend on the type of pain you have. If the pain is mild to moderate with associated inflammation, for example; mild back pain or headaches, then Paracetamol or NSAIDs will be a suitable choice. If however, the pain is being caused by damaged or sensitive nerves, then Amitriptyline or Gabapentin would be a better choice.
If the pain is severe and isn’t effectively being managed by over-the-counter medicines, then stronger doses or alternative options, such as opioid analgesics, are available with a valid prescription from your doctor.
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