You know your pain better than anyone -- and as hard as it’s been to handle it, your experience holds the key to making a plan to treat it.
Each person and their pain are unique. The best way to manage your case could be very different from what works for someone else. Your treatment will depend upon things such as:
- The cause
- How intense it is
- How long it’s lasted
- What makes it worse or better
Be sure to share that information with any health professional you work with. It will help them find the right solutions for you.
It can be a process to find your best plan. You can try a combination of things and then report back to your doctor about how your pain is doing. Together, you can tweak your program based on what’s working and what needs more help.
All Pain Is Not the Same
In order to make your pain management plan, your doctor will first consider whether you have sudden (“acute”) or long-term (“chronic”) pain.
Acute pain starts suddenly and usually feels sharp. Broken bones, burns, or cuts are classic examples. So is pain after surgery or giving birth.
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 6 months, and it stops when its underlying cause has been treated or has healed.
If the problem that causes short-term pain isn’t treated, it may lead to long-term, or “chronic” pain.
Chronic pain lasts longer than 3 months, often despite the fact that an injury has healed. It could even last for years. Some examples include:
- Low back pain
- Cancer pain
- Arthritis pain
- Pain caused by nerve damage
It can cause tense muscles, problems with moving, a lack of energy, and changes in appetite. It can also affect your emotions. Some people feel depressed, angry, or anxious about the pain and injury coming back.
Chronic pain doesn’t always have an obvious physical cause.