What Are the Different Types of Pain Management?

Madeleine A.

Different types of pain management include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioid-based medications. Anti-inflammatory medications are available both over the counter and by prescription, however, opioid-based medications are available by prescription only. In addition, acetaminophen is also a common medication used to treat pain, and is sometimes combined with other pain relievers to enhance the effects.

Stress relief may help manage neck pain.
Stress relief may help manage neck pain.

NSAIDs not only relieve pain, they are also effective in relieving accompanying inflammation. Other types of pain management medications include corticosteroids, which help reduce inflammation as well. Corticosteroid medications can cause side effects such as an increase in appetite, weight gain, skin reactions, and an increase in blood sugar levels. In addition to alleviating pain, corticosteroids are also used to treat lung problems, severe skin conditions, and rheumatoid conditions. These medications should not be abruptly discontinued by the patient, but gradually weaned by the health care provider.

Sometimes, pain is accompanied by depression. In these cases, the administration of antidepressant medications might help the patient perceive pain in a different way and better cope with it. Types of pain management medications such as antidepressants can cause weight gain, drowsiness, anxiety, and headache. When side effects occur, the health care provider should be consulted, who can recommend alternative types of pain management. Like corticosteroids, antidepressant medications should not be discontinued abruptly by the patient to avoid risk of adverse reactions such as withdrawal symptoms.

Non-pharmacological types of pain management include meditation, exercise, and a healthy diet. Certain foods, such as chocolate, herring, and some cheeses, can trigger migraine headache attacks and avoiding them can reduce the frequency. In addition, avoiding coffee and alcoholic beverages might also stave off a migraine headache.

Stress can cause pain in the shoulders, neck, and back. Mild exercise or meditation programs can reduce stress and related pain. In extreme cases of intractable or persistent pain, epidural anesthetics can be administered into the spine, and this type of pain management is commonly administered in pain clinics by health care providers known as pain specialists.

Persistent or prolonged pain should be evaluated by a health care provider who can determine the source of the pain and recommend an appropriate course of action. The health care provider can also explain the risks and benefits of certain types of pain management and offer alternative options. When pain comes on suddenly or is severe, a trip to the emergency room may be warranted to rule out a serious medical conditions such as a heart attack or stroke.

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