The goals of pain assessment are to:
You may be having pain and do not want to complain about it. However, pain is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. Talking to your health care provider about how you feel is not complaining -- it is the best thing you can do to find out what is wrong and get the right treatment.
Once the type and characteristics of pain are identified, you and your health care provider will decide how to manage or treat it. The following factors will play a role in choosing the right type of treatment for you:
If your pain is being caused by a medication you are taking or another illness, your health care provider may want to take care of that first. If you are still experiencing pain, there are many options for pain relief.
Pain relief options without medications include:
Many of these options -- such as massage, acupuncture, meditation, and exercise - trigger the body to release endorphins. Endorphins are brain chemicals that act similarly to opiate drugs like morphine and codeine. While these may be enough to relieve pain by themselves, they are often used along with pain medications.
Pain relief medicines that do not contain narcotics (opiates). These are available over-the-counter or by prescription. These medicines relieve mild to moderate pain related to inflammation or swelling. Some people with a history of drug addiction prefer these non-opioid pain medicines. They include:
Non-opioid pain medicines can cause side effects including liver damage (Tylenol), easy bleeding (aspirin), stomach pain or damage (aspirin and other NSAIDs), heart problems (COX-2 inhibitors), and high blood sugar and bone weakening (steroids).
Narcotics and related drugs known as opioids are the strongest pain relievers, available only by prescription. They are used to treat moderate to severe pain.
Opioids are classified by how fast and how long they work.
Opioids are also classified by their strength.
Opioids can cause side effects including drowsiness, nausea, and constipation. Overdoses can slow down breathing and cause death. Opiates can lead to dependence or addiction and may be a problem for people with a history of substance use.
Topical or Local Therapies
These are medications that are injected or applied to the skin around a painful area. Examples include the local anesthetic Xylocaine (lidocaine) and capsaicin, which comes from chili peppers.
There are medicines prescribed for other purposes that also have pain-relieving properties.
Determine if the Pain Treatment Works
Once you start medication or other pain treatment, your health care provider will likely check your pain regularly to see if treatment is working. Sometimes pain medications can stop working over time.
This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
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