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Overview

Acute Pain: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment?

The pain experienced by a person if he/she has broken a bone in his/her body, or has suffered a burn or a cut is the classic example of acute pain. A person also experiences acute pain after giving birth or surgery and this sensation is usually sudden and sharp. Acute pain may also be mild and last for a few moments. On the other hand, it can also be very severe and last for months on end. It is the pain that is related to damage of soft tissues such as a paper cut or a sprained ankle. Generally, acute pain does not last long and gradually dissipates as and when the injured tissue gets healed.

An effective pain management plan is necessary to deal with acute pain. It is very difficult to understand the pain that is troubling another person. A self-assessment of pain includes the sensory, psychological, emotional and cultural components of pain experience of the patient. Several factors like location and quality of pain, aggravating and alleviating conditions, duration and timing and others need to be considered while devising a plan to counter acute pain.

The various means which can be used to reduce/treat acute pain are: bodily movement, physical and occupational therapy, massage therapy, counseling, relaxation as well as complimentary treatments like acupuncture, spinal manipulation and biofeedback. Other treatments like spinal cord stimulation and TENS are also helpful.

How is the treatment done?

Contrary to popular belief, a person suffering from acute pain should continue his/her physical activities instead of just laying low and taking rest. This will make him/her stronger and also will help to reduce pain. Physical therapy involves acting on those muscles from where the pain is emanating. A person will understand which muscles he/she needs to strengthen or stretch to recover from the injury. A doctor may advice occupational therapy which means that a person is taught to do specific tasks but without suffering so much pain. Reaching out to a counselor for advice and support can be beneficial if the pain is too much to handle.

Massage therapy helps to ease pressure in the muscles and therefore bring about a temporary feeling of ease. It is to be kept in mind, however, that this method is not a real cure for acute pain. Meditation and deep breathing are two techniques that can provide relief from acute pain.

Furthermore, acute pain can be dealt with the help of pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic measures. The best way to treat acute pain is with a multimodal approach by combining medicines with non-pharmacologic steps. In the multimodal analgesia or ‘balanced analgesia’ method of treatment, a person is given 2 or more analgesic agents. Every agent has a different function and acts at a different site in the nervous system. This method is the most effective in treating pain.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Pain is itself a symptom that occurs mainly due to damage of bodily tissues. However, some of the symptoms that are associated with pain and might help someone to understand whether or not he/she is eligible for treatment are: depression, flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite, numbness, muscle spasms, inability to concentrate, sleep disturbances and unexpected weight loss. When a person experiences acute pain together with some other symptoms, it may be indicative of a life-threatening ailment. A person should consult a doctor before undergoing any treatment. A doctor will take the final call on whether a person is eligible for treatment or not.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Pain can be experienced due to a variety of causes. A person can wrongly diagnose any pain arising out of any serious complication to be acute pain. Some serious diseases which are commonly undiagnosed can be nerve diseases like diabetic neuropathy, peripheral neuropathy and chronic disorders like fibromyalgia, arthritis, migraine and chronic pain syndromes. Thus it is of paramount importance to visit a doctor and get the proper diagnosis. People suffering from serious diseases and experiencing pain due to that are not eligible for the treatment.

Are there any side effects?

some of the side-effects of acupuncture for acute pain relief are: fatigue, soreness, muscle twitching, lightheadedness, emotional release and bruising. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs help to reduce pain. But some of the side-effects of using these drugs are indigestion and other gut problems, headches, dizziness and drowsiness. Use of NSAIDs can affect kidneys, liver, heart and blood circulation and can also cause fluid retention. Furthermore, some of the side-effects of analgesics are constipation, drowsiness, skin rashes, dry mouth, upset stomach and ringing in the ears.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Using analgesics to relieve pain for a long period of time can cause you to get addicted to the drug. When a person is on analgesics, he/she should avoid performing tasks that require a lot of awareness like driving a car. When a person is on analgesics, he/she should not consume alcohol. An acupuncture session makes you feel relaxed and so a person should not go for any intense workout session afterards. There are some changes in body energy and a doctor normally advises people to bring some changes in their diet and also to exercise.

How long does it take to recover?

Acute pain is generally sharp and sudden pain that generally occurs due to damage to some body tissues. Acute pain may disappear within a few moments or it can last for a few weeks as well. Acute pain due to muscle spasms generally takes a longer period to get resolved. Pain in the lower back caused due to strain or soft-tissue damage takes about 3-6 weeks to get resolved. Pain in other areas may also last longer.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The cost of an acupuncture session normally varies between Rs 800 and Rs 1000 in India. Some government hospitals, however, provide acupuncture therapy for as low as Rs 20 per session to the poor. NSAIDs generally cost between Rs 600 –RSs 700. Analgesic medications are available for as low as Rs 75 per 10 tablets to as high as more than Rs 1000 for 10 tablets.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Analgesics, acupuncture and massage therapy helps to deal with acute pain. But acute pain is a sharp and sudden sensation that may occur due to a number of various reasons. A person undergoing a surgery will experience acute pain even if he had had medication and had undergone treatment for it before. An accidental cut on your body or a broken bone can also herald the onset of acute pain. Thus this sensation is never permanently cured.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

There are some herbal remedies that can help a person to deal with acute pain. Capsaicin, which is derived from chilli peppers, can be topically applied to get relief from pain. Ginger extracts help to deal with joint and muscle pain due to the presence of phytochemicals. Turmeric is useful for reducing inflammation and thus helps to deal with acute pain.

Safety: Medium Effectiveness: High Timeliness: Medium Relative Risk: Low Side Effects: Low Time For Recovery: Medium Price Range: Rs 20- Rs 1000

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