Pain management employs a multidisciplinary approach to ease suffering and improve the quality of life among patients in both acute and chronic pain. The pain management team includes medical practitioners, physiotherapists, pharmacists, clinical psychologists, physiotherapists, nurses, and occupational therapists.

Acute pain sometimes resolves quickly as the underlying trauma or pathology resolves or is being treated by a medical practitioner. Acute pain can be managed by pain-relieving drugs ( analgesics) or anxiolytics, which block the pain pathways. If the cause of pain is a microbial infection, antimicrobial therapy is indicated to eliminate the offending microorganisms.

On the other hand, effective management of chronic pain usually requires a multidisciplinary approach. Effective chronic pain management does not mean a complete eradication of pain, but optimal efforts should improve life quality.

The task of medicical intervention is to relieve suffering under three circumstances;

  • When a painful trauma or pathology is resistant to other treatments thus persists
  • Persistence of pain even after the initiating injury or illness has resolved
  • When medical science cannot identify the specific cause of pain

The treatment options for management of chronic pain include;

  • Pharmacological measures like analgesics, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, immunomodulators, and many other options.
  • Interventional procedures
  • Exercise therapy 
  • Physical exercise 
  • Application of heat or ice
  • Psychological measures like biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy

Another under-recognized approach to pain management is self-management, whereby an individual is actively involved in managing his pain. Self-management is done by building self-efficacy, monitoring self symptoms, and setting a goal and a self plan. Self-management also encompasses a shared decision between the healthcare provider and the physician.

Adverse effects and challenges of pain management

The most typical challenge in pain management is communication between health care providers and patients. Patients might find it challenging to recognize or describe their pain effectively. Furthermore, medical practitioners might also find it challenging to communicate with each other.

Some of the drugs used to manage pain work differently; thus, they have varying effectiveness. Some medications used to manage pain like opioids, DMARD, steroids have a long-time systemic effect when used for long. Opioids can lead to dependence and addiction, while DMARD and steroids weaken the immune system.

The other challenge in managing a phenomenon whereby pain management covers a medical problem; thus, the patients feel too comfortable or becomes less aware of the need to seek treatment for an underlying serious medical condition that may worsen with time.

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