What is pain and how do you treat it?

We all know that when you experience an injury it can be painful. Understanding pain and its main causes can help you effectively treat it. While pain relief medications help, there are some alternative methods you may also find useful such as hot and cold compresses.

Main causes of pain

Pain is felt when our nociceptors (our pain receptors) detect tissue damage. It can range from mild to debilitating and can feel like a sharp stabbing pain or a dull ache. The main causes of pain include:

  • Skin wounds such as cuts, grazes and burns that cause tissue damage can often be quite painful. 

  • Headaches and migraines can range from a dull ache to a throbbing in the head and around the eyes.

  • Insect bites and stings often cause an immediate sharp pain in and around the site of the bite or sting. 

  • Sprains and strains to ankles, knees or wrists that happen when you overstretch or twist a muscle.

Alternatives to Medication

While medication such as paracetamol can help to relieve pain, there are some alternatives that can also be used to treat pain.

  • Acupuncture is an effective alternative to medication to help relieve many common causes of pain. It involves the use of needles at certain pressure points.

  • Psychotherapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a talking therapy that can help treat the way you deal with the symptoms of chronic pain.

  • Hot and cold compresses can be applied to the site of pain, these can be alternated or selected to treat the specific injury or pain.

  • Rest and relaxation for pain caused by a physical injury or repetitive action can help the injury heal. Relaxation methods such as meditation and yoga can also help.

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