Pain serves a vital purpose when it comes to the survival of an individual. Pain is a sensation that we feel when certain receptors are stimulated by various modalities.
There are two types of pain: nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain. Nociceptive pain results from tissue damage (burns, lacerations). Neuropathic pain results from nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy, neuralgia, causalgia). The quality of neuropathic pain is often described as lancinating, burning or tingling. Pain pathways are sent through the peripheral and central nervous systems. One of the most important goals in managing pain is to localize the type of pain so that patients can receive the appropriate treatments.
Pain management involves obtaining a complete history, performing general and neurological examination and obtaining the appropriate diagnostic studies. It entails more than just prescribing medication. Often pain management involves a team approach that embraces a wide variety of modalities. Long-term chronic pain needs to be appropriately managed in order to provide patients with better quality of life.
Common pain myths include stoicism (“pain complaints are for the weak,”), ignoring mood (take mood seriously), masking (pain medications dangerously mask my symptoms).
Pain must be treated by cause, i.e. bone pain, complex regional pain syndrome, trigeminal neuralgia, post-herpetic neuralgia, neuropathic pain, thalamic pain syndrome, neck and spine pain, fibromyalgia.
If you are experiencing pain, consult with your primary care physician. He or she may run some tests to ascertain the cause of your pain. If necessary, your physician may refer you to a neurologist or other sub-specialists for further evaluation, testing and treatment.