Everything you should know about pain
Experiencing pain in the body can have an impact on your daily routine. Around two thirds of people say that being in pain prevents them from enjoying their daily life. Understand at first hand what pain is, the types of pain that there are and their treatments.
What is pain?
Pain is an unpleasant feeling that limits people’s ability and capacity to perform daily activities. It acts as an initial warning signal that something is not right in the organism. The most accepted definition of pain is currently that of the International Association for the Study of Pain: “An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.”
- According to its duration:
- Acute: Acute pain is the normal and predictable physiological response to a damaging (painful) stimulus. It is clearly localised and its intensity correlates to the stimulus. An example of acute pain is what we feel when we prick ourselves with a needle. The natural tendency of the organism is to withdraw the hand, it is this pain that signals that something bad is happening and the organism reacts. Unlike chronic pain, acute pain is of limited duration and abates when the lesion disappears or heals. Acute pain has a protective advisory function: it indicates that a lesion has occurred and prevents that lesion from exacerbating by triggering reactions to avoid it.
- Chronic: Chronic pain is different. It can last weeks, months or even years. The original cause may have been a lesion or infection. There could be a continuous cause of pain due to a disease such as arthritis, cancer or diabetes, or even for an unresolved lesion: disc hernia, broken ligaments or bones. Psychological or emotional factors also play a fundamental role, habitually intensifying the primary pain caused by disorders such as chronic headaches, fibromyalgia etc.
- Depending on their pathogenesis:
- Neuropathic: This is produced by direct stimulus of the central nervous system or by lesion of the peripheral nerve tracts. It is described as sharp, burning, accompanied by paraesthesias (abnormal sensations such as cramps, cold and heat) and dysaesthesias (exaggeration or reduction of a painful sensation), hyperalgesia (an increase of sensitivity to pain), hyperaesthesia and allodynia (the painful perception of a non-painful stimulus). Examples of neuropathic pain are post-irradiation brachial or lumbar-sacral plexopathy, post chemotherapy or post-radiotherapy peripheral neuropathy and medullary compression.
- Nociceptive: This type of pain is the most frequent, that caused by a painful stimulus of the nociceptors and is divided into somatic and visceral as detailed below.
- Psychogenic: The psycho-social environment around the individual comes into play. The need for a constant increase of the analgesic dose to little effect is typical.
- Depending on its location:
- Somatic: Produced by the abnormal excitation of the superficial or deep somatic nociceptors (skin, musculoskeletal tissue, vessels, etc.). It is a sharp, localised pain that radiates along nerve pathways. The most common is bone pain caused by bone metastasis. The treatment should include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
- Visceral: Produced by the abnormal excitation of visceral nociceptors. This pain is poorly localised, continuous and deep. Also, it can radiate to areas far from the place where it originated. It is often accompanied by neuro-vegetative symptoms. Examples of visceral pain are colic type pains, hepatic metastasis and pancreatic cancer. This pain responds well to treatment with opioids.
Objective of the pain division at Cardiva
The portfolio of this division encompasses all the available products to tackle the treatment of pain from a minimally invasive standpoint. Here we find those devices that Cardiva can offer healthcare professionals for the performance of the most common techniques in pain treatment.
The Division’s goal is to supply a varied range of devices, equipment and goods to Pain Units, generally dependent on Anaesthesia Services, so that they can perform anything from the classic treatments used in a Pain Unit up to the most innovative treatments.
The treatment of pain is comprised of the set of means of any class (hygienic, pharmacological, surgical and/or physical) whose purpose is the healing or relief (palliation) of this symptom. Its importance centres on the fact that pain is one of the disorders that most affects and worries people and is the accompanying symptom that most frequently leads to a medical consultation.
As a general rule, acute pain manifests suddenly and indicates that the organism has suffered a lesion. Once the lesion heals, the pain should disappear. Chronic pain is longer lasting than acute pain, and sometimes does not respond to conventional treatments. It is usually associated with chronic diseases, and contrary to what happens with acute pain, chronic pain is usually related to persistent dysfunctions or diseases. The variety of treatments for pain is very wide due to all the factors that come into play in each case.
Before resorting to a medication without a prescription to alleviate the pain, such as topical gels or tablets, it is a good idea to understand why the pain is being produced and what the best way to handle it is. In case of doubt, consult your doctor or pharmacist. We must bear in mind that only a doctor can make an objective diagnosis about your pain, and that not all pain can be treated by non-prescription medicines.