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The Road to Pain Relief

Feb 29, 2008
Although pain affects more than 76 million Americans, it can be an isolating experience. According to the American Pain Foundation, pain is a critical, biological warning sign to the body when something. Pain can signal injury, such as touching a hot oven, or an underlying disease or infection, such as cancer or shingles. Pain is classified as acute or chronic. Acute pain usually follows surgery or injury and resolves as the body heals itself. Pain is diagnosed as chronic when it persists after healing has taken place.

Failure to treat acute pain promptly and appropriately can contribute to the development of chronic pain syndromes. In such cases, pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months or even years. In addition, pain can lead to other health problems, causing damage to the body. If untreated, chronic pain can weaken the immune system, decrease the quality of life, create feelings of anger and depression, lead to a deterioration of relationships, and result in a loss of independence.

Many people wrongly assume they have to live with pain - that it is an inevitable part of their disease or condition, or a natural part of growing older. The fact is most pain can be relieved with proper pain management.

Pain should be assessed thoroughly and treated early and aggressively. Early treatment is the best way to minimize the suffering and disability often associated with under-treated pain.

It's important to become your own best advocate as you navigate the road to pain relief and reclaim your life. The earlier you seek treatment, the better. Following are some helpful things to keep in mind from the American Pain Foundation:

In the search for a healthcare provider who will help you reach your goals of pain relief and management, you may have been told, "Nothing more can be done to ease your pain," or "You'll just have to live with it." If this is your situation, take the time to find a healthcare provider who has the education, skills and willingness to work with you to manage pain. Don't be afraid to speak up. Only you know the extent of your pain and how it affects your quality of life.

Consider starting a pain notebook, a tool to help you keep a record of pain. The notebook should include when the pain occurs, for how long, the level of pain, and its impact on day-to-day life. Keeping track of what things make your pain better or worse will help your healthcare team find the best ways to treat pain.

Knowledge is power. There are a variety of drug and non-drug therapies (e.g., physical therapy, yoga, meditation) available to effectively control pain. These are typically used in combination. Ask your healthcare provider about ways to relax and cope with pain. Pain can feel worse if you are stressed, depressed or anxious. Be an informed consumer and learn all you can about pain and pain management options.

As you work with your healthcare provider, set realistic goals for things you most want to do. Do you want to achieve better sleep? Begin exercising or return work? Begin with the easiest goals first. Set realistic goals for pain relief. Persistent pain tends not to disappear. Look for a provider who will work with you to get you to the point where you can "live life again."

Prior to appointments, write down questions you have and let your provider know if there is something you don't understand. Also, bring along a relative or close friend to provide support and to help take notes and remember what was said. Sometimes, it's easy to forget or misunderstand what was explained during doctor's appointments. Having someone else there to process the information can be a great boost to your appointments.
During initial appointments, share with your provider what over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements you take, at what does and how often. Also, be honest about personal health habits, such as smoking, alcohol use, etc., which can interfere with some pain treatments and increase pain levels.

Finally, find out about support groups and educational programs in your area or online. Also seek the support and encouragement of friends and family members when you need them. They can provide the incentive you need to not give up in your quest for pain relief. And remember, there will be both good and bad days. Give yourself some grace as you traverse the road to pain relief.
About the Author
Geologix Inc. manufactures products using a proprietary formula featuring 34 natural minerals contained in the ancient sea water from the famous Michigan Basin -- a concentration of minerals higher than that found in any known body of water in the world. Mineral Essentials focuses on spa, skin care, and massage products to moisturize and provide anti-aging protection for great skin. Mineral Essentials, and Acheaway
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