Measuring, Managing and Controlling Pain

Measuring, Managing and Controlling Pain

“On a scale of 0 to 10, where is your pain?”

Chances are you’ve heard this question before. Over the past several decades, this question has been used by clinicians to measure a patient’s pain. And while it is an imperfect metric, this scale plays an important role in a patient’s recovery.

Significant pain can limit a patient’s ability to participate in the specific therapy needed to recover from an injury or illness. Alternative therapy may be required first to reduce the pain so that the patient can participate in the aggressive therapy required for their recovery.

Pain can also affect a patient’s mindset and their attitude toward rehabilitation. A positive and focused mindset plays a key role in a patient’s ability to recover. Pain interrupts that mentality.

Reducing the pain – moving the number from, say a 7 to a 4 – helps create an environment for healing to occur.

But that doesn’t necessarily require drugs.

Alternative and Complementary Options

Painkiller medication is the second-leading cause of accidental death in the United States. These medications can also have negative effects on your body, such as constipation, impaired mental function, and drowsiness.

Long-term use can have an even greater impact on your health. Our bodies produce natural painkillers, such as endorphins. We can cease producing these natural painkillers as a result of prolonged usage. Your body may also build up a tolerance to painkiller medication, requiring higher dosages or stronger medications. They can even cause serious issues with the liver and kidneys.

However, alternative and complementary options exist to reduce or even prevent the need for painkiller medications. Alternative treatments take the place of traditional medicine. Complementary options work in tandem with traditional medicine to decrease usage.

Examples of alternative and complementary options include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Dry needling
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Chiropractic care
  • Massage
  • Ice and heat
  • Herbal supplements and vitamins
  • Stress-relief techniques, like meditation
  • Exercise programs, like yoga

Your Role as a Patient

As you can see, treating pain is more complex than just moving a number down the scale. As a patient, you play a key role in the management and control of your pain. Providing context and more detailed feedback will help your clinicians in developing a treatment plan. Ask questions about, and be open to, alternative and complementary options that may reduce or eliminate the need for painkiller medications. We encourage patients to be participative in their care. It makes a difference!


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