Pain – A sensation or feeling caused by an injury or a physical issue, such as disease or joint dysfunction. Pain is a multi-faceted, subjective ailment, with emphasis on the word “subjective.” Most of us are somewhat familiar with pain — everyone has had some kind of pain at some point, such as headaches and various minor or major injuries. However, each person has a different experience with pain.
A problem or injury can be identified if there is acute pain. It normally lasts for just a short time and is treated by removing the underlying causes and with analgesics. Anyone who suffers from acute pain should consult with a physician.
Chronic pain is not so straight forward. By definition, it consists of pain that continues for 6 months or more. Side effects can include sleep problems, diminished appetite or lack of interest in food, loss or increase in weight, decreased sex drive and depression, in addition to many more.
Chronic pain that interferes with daily living afflicts more than 40 million men, women and children in the United States. More than half say that pain has a negative effect on their employment, decreasing productivity and limiting their ability to work all required hours. It even impacts their chances for promotion. More than half say that pain has a negative effect of their personal lives or daily activities, and 65% say that pain interferes with their ability to exercise and with their quality of sleep. And finally, more than 3\4 say that pain results in irritability, stress and a decrease in motivation and desires.
The vast majority of people who experience pain consult with their physician regarding it, but 48% delay this consultation due to the nonchalant attitude displayed by most in the medical field with regard to pain.
Until recently, pain was thought of as a symptom of a disease, condition or even a natural part of aging, thus most pain remains under-treated, treated incorrectly or possibly even not treated at all. The reason for this is that most of those in the medical field have received training in treating diseases and conditions, but not in managing them.
Despite this, people continually are looking for ways to decrease pain. More than half use prescription drugs, while approximately the same number use non-prescription remedies. But side effects occur from medications in 89% of these people, with stomach issues and drowsiness being the chief complaints. As a result, 63% of those who rely on prescription medications do not take the medicine as prescribed.
Pain is highly subjective in nature and as such, each person responds differently to pain. There is no sure-fire method of quantifying pain. The causes of pain can usually be uncovered through diagnostic testing, x-rays, MRI’s, range of motion testing, etc., but these tests cannot quantify the level of pain being experienced.
Pain scales in which a person can rate his/her pain on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 representing an absence of pain and 10 representing the worst pain one could imagine, are quite helpful in quantifying and treating pain. However, a rating of 6 on a pain scale still may have different meanings for different people, even those who have the same condition. This means that while pain scales can assist in determining an individual’s pain level at various times, it is not very helpful in comparing one person’s pain level to that of another person.
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