Pain is the result of a physiological series of electrical and chemical events that occur in the body. Pain receptors are bare nerve endings that are widely distributed throughout the body, skin and mucous membranes. When pain receptors are triggered by mechanical, chemical, or thermal stimuli, the pain signal is transmitted through the nerves to the spinal cord and to the brain. Pain attacks the human body at every vulnerable target -- muscles, bones, and joints.
Major types of pain:
- Acute pain begins suddenly and is usually sharp in quality. It serves as a warning of disease or a threat to the body. Acute pain may be caused by many events or circumstances, such as surgery, broken bones, burns or cuts, labor and childbirth, and etc. Acute pain may be mild and last just a moment, or it may be severe and last for weeks or months. In most cases, acute pain does not last longer than six months and it disappears when the underlying cause of pain has been treated or has healed. Unrelieved acute pain, however, may lead to chronic pain.
- Chronic pain persists despite the fact that an injury has healed. Pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or years. Physical effects include tense muscles, limited mobility, a lack of energy, and changes in appetite. Emotional effects include depression, anger, anxiety, and fear of re-injury. Such a fear may hinder a person's ability to return to normal work or leisure activities. Common chronic pain complaints include: headache, low back pain, cancer pain, arthritis pain, neurogenic pain (pain resulting from damage to nerves), or psychogenic pain (pain not due to past disease or injury or any visible sign of damage inside)
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Depending upon its severity, pain may be treated in a number of ways which may include one or more of the following:
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen
Prescription pain relievers
Analgesic creams, gels, patches