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Exploring Natural Remedies for Pain Relief|woman in pain|man with back pain|woman holding wrist

Health & Wellness

Types of Pain and Natural Remedies for Pain Relief

Pain isn't something that most people spend a lot of time thinking about. After all, pain hurts, what more do you want to know about it? Medical professionals do spend a lot of time thinking about pain, however, and they have classified pain into several different types. They have taken the time to do this because different types of pain require different types of pain relief.

woman in pain

The Different Types of Pain

There are three 'basic' types of pain, and then numerous other subtypes of pain. The three basic types of pain are: 1

- Nociceptive

- Neuropathic

- Other

Nociceptive Pain

Nociceptive pain is the type of pain that is caused by damage (or the threat of damage) to tissues. Burns, stubbed toes and bee stings are common examples of nociceptive pain. This type of pain hurts more if you move the damaged part or put pressure on it. The good news is that most nociceptive pain is acute, or temporary. Undo the damage or remove the cause of the pain and the pain should go away.

Neuropathic Pain

Where nociceptive pain relates to tissues, neuropathic pain relates to the nervous system. 2 Sciatica is an example of neuropathic pain. Unfortunately, neuropathic pain is often chronic, or long-lasting, since damage to the nerves tends to be harder to heal.

Other Pain

The 'other' category covers pain that is not well understood yet, such as complex regional pain syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, or chronic, nonspecific low back pain. 3 These types of pain may have some overlap with neuropathic or nociceptive pain but they are hard to categorize and the exact cause and mechanism of the pain are not fully understood.

man with back pain

Pain and Our Perception of It

The above terms describe pain as doctors would understand it. We, as patients, think of pain in slightly different ways, or use narrower classifications, such as: 4

- Acute, short-term pain

- Chronic, long-lasting pain

- Breakthrough pain, which occurs in between taking pain relief

- Bone pain, nerve pain, or soft-tissue pain

- Referred pain, describing the phenomenon where damage in one area causes pain elsewhere

- Phantom pain, something that amputees experience where they feel pain in a limb that has been removed

- Total pain; describing the emotional, social and mental factors which can affect how a person experiences pain

Everyone Feels Pain Differently

Everyone experiences pain differently, even when the pain is caused by similar things. For this reason, it is important that you talk to a doctor if you are suffering from severe pain, and tell them what the pain is like. Is it dull, or burning, or sharp? Does the pain come and go or is it always there?

When your doctor has a good understanding of the pain you are feeling, they will be better able to help you cope with it.

woman holding wrist

Managing Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is perhaps the most frustrating type of pain because it lasts for a long time and it can interfere with so much of your day to day life. Some people end up in a spiral where because they are in pain they cannot sleep and they are stressed. This makes them more sensitive to pain, which makes the pain they are feeling worse and therefore has an even bigger impact on their life.

Your doctor will recommend pain relief options for you based on your medical history. If you have chronic pain then on top of those coping strategies you may want to make use of other treatments or self-care measures, such as gentle exercise, breathing techniques, aromatherapy and massage. 5

Finding a Better Mental Place

While it would be unfair to say that pain is all in the mind, it is true that the way that we perceive pain, and our mood, can affect how we respond to the sensation of pain. Acute pain is usually quite strong and difficult to ignore, but it is usually caused by something specific which can be addressed. This makes it easier to treat. Chronic pain is often harder to manage, and many people find that they benefit from counseling or therapy to help them to accept the pain and to find positive coping strategies so that they do not 'spiral' into increasingly severe pain issues.

Being able to remain clear-headed and to use positive coping strategies is important. For example, if your pain is making you anxious and making it difficult for you to sleep, try improving your sleep hygiene, getting regular exercise, and using chamomile and lavender to help you doze off. These essential oils can help to reduce anxiety and improve your mood while making it easier for you to fall asleep. Chamomile, in particular, has had promising effects even in long term studies into anxiety disorders. 6

Pain Relief is as Complex as Pain

Pain relief is not an exact science. Doctors are becoming aware of the lasting effects of certain popular pharmaceutical methods of pain relief. Long term opioid painkiller use, for example, can cause cardiovascular issues, according to some studies. 7 For this reason, doctors usually encourage people to look for gentler ways to manage their pain.

Someone with joint pain, for example, may be advised to lose weight and gain strength so that they can take the stress off their joints. Someone with migraines may be asked to keep a diary to work out their triggers so that they can avoid things that will cause an episode. It is not always possible to stop pain in its tracks through lifestyle changes, but when you can, it makes sense to do so. The more you can avoid using aggressive painkillers, the more options you will have available to you should you ever be unfortunate enough to suffer from the more difficult to treat types of pain.

Photo credits: MaksymPovozniuk/, AfricaStudio/, Anut21ngPhoto/

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