Managing Different Types Of Pain
Your guide to dealing with common aches and pains, including effective tips and treatments, as well as management solutions.
Published: Tuesday 14 March 2023
Table of Contents
Pain is a common, unpleasant sensation that most of us have experienced at least once in some capacity, stemming from a response by the nervous system. It’s defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) as, ‘An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage’. Whilst some pains can be acute, have a short duration, and be localised to one area, others can be chronic, debilitating and generalised to the whole body. Fortunately, most types of pain can be managed with simple remedies that you can do at home. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common types of pain, and how they can be dealt with.
Toothaches are pains associated with the teeth that can be caused by several factors, including cavities, gum disease, an infected tooth, or a damaged filling. If you are experiencing a toothache, there are several remedies you can try to relieve the pain.
Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria. Over-the-counter pain medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can also help alleviate the pain and reduce swelling. In addition, applying a cold compress to the outside of your cheek near the affected tooth can help reduce swelling and numb the area. It is also advised that you avoid sweet, hard, very hot or very cold foods as these may further aggravate the dental injury. Instead, it is recommended that you eat soft foods, such as scrambled eggs or plain yoghurt, and if possible, try chewing your food on the opposite side of the mouth to where the pain is felt.
If the pain lasts for longer than two days, is not improved with painkillers, or if you develop a high temperature or excessive swelling in the mouth, you should seek an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Make sure to call your dentist instead of your GP, as they will not be able to give you dental treatment.
To prevent future toothaches, ensure that you do the following:
- See your dentist regularly
- Cut down on high-sugar foods and drinks
- Brush teeth twice a day for around 2 minutes
- Floss between teeth to ensure that any food and plaque have been removed
Musculoskeletal pain is an umbrella term for pain affecting the following:
- Bones: bone fractures, breaks, repetitive movement injuries, hormone deficiency and infections can all contribute to bone pain.
- Joints: typically felt in the hands, feet, spine, knees and hips and may be triggered by previous injuries, muscle overuse, arthritis, mental conditions, being overweight or just general poor health.
- Ligaments and tendons: these are strong bands of tissue that connect joints and bones, and they can be affected by sprains, strains and muscle overuse, triggering pain sensations.
- Muscles: overuse of the muscles, spasms, cramps and infections can all contribute to muscle pain.
Musculoskeletal pain can range from being acute, short-lived and localised, to being debilitating, chronic and generalised, often depending on the individual, their circumstances, and what triggered the pain originally. If you are experiencing musculoskeletal pain, it's important to rest the affected area and avoid any activities that cause pain, but for severe pain, it is advised that you contact your GP immediately.
One remedy that can be tried at home is using heat or cold therapy, depending on what feels better for you, as this can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Over-the-counter pain medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen and pain relief gel like Voltarol can help to treat the pain. Voltarol Back And Muscle Relief is another pain relief gel specifically for localised back and muscle pain. Massaging the affected area may help to relieve tension and promote comfort, while performing gentle stretches or exercises recommended by your GP can also help alleviate pain and promote healing.
When it comes to preventing musculoskeletal pain and promoting strong bones and muscles, it is recommended that you:
- Stretch and exercise regularly
- Practise good posture
- Lift large or heavy items using the correct techniques
- Avoid smoking
- Eat a healthy, non-inflammatory diet
Sciatica is a type of pain that is caused by pressure on the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back to the legs. It often takes around 4 to 6 weeks for the pain to resolve, however there are several tips for relieving the pain and speeding up the recovery. It is recommended that you carry on with your normal activities as much as possible. In addition, there are several exercises and stretches that are specifically recommended for managing sciatica, such as:
- Knee-to-opposite-shoulder stretch:
Side-lying hip stretch:
- Lie on your back on the floor.
- Stretch your legs out and point your toes upward.
- Pull your left knee to your chest, then lean it towards your right shoulder.
- Hold it there for 30-45 seconds and repeat 3 times.
- Switch legs.
Back-lying hip rotation:
- Lie on your left side on the floor with a pillow beneath your head and your knees partially bent.
- Slowly pull your right knee towards your chest and hold for 3 seconds, then lower your knee back so your right leg is aligned with your left leg.
- Repeat this exercise 3 times before switching legs.
- Lie on your back on the floor with your legs together and your knees raised, so your feet are flat on the floor.
- Keeping your knees together and your shoulders in place, lower your knees towards the floor on your left side.
- Hold this position for 15 seconds before returning to your starting position.
- Repeat this exercise on the right side.
- Repeat all steps 3 times.
Over-the-counter NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications) such as ibuprofen or Voltarol Back And Muscle Relief can help alleviate the pain by reducing inflammation and swelling to the muscles located in the lower back and legs. Applying heat or cold packs can also be helpful. It is recommended that you avoid lying down for long periods as this will likely fail to relieve the pain. If the pain is severe and persists for more than a few weeks, disrupting your usual routine, you should schedule an appointment with your GP or see a pharmacist.
Menstrual cramps are a common type of pain that many people experience during their menstrual cycle. It usually occurs when the muscular wall of the womb contracts, which compresses blood vessels that line the womb. When this happens, the tissues are temporarily cut off from oxygen and release chemicals in response that trigger sensations of pain. The severity of the pain varies from person to person, but in most cases is mild enough to treat at home.
Taking over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen can help alleviate the pain by reducing inflammation, while Feminax Express can also help in the same way. Applying heat therapy to your lower abdomen or taking a warm bath can also be helpful and promotes relaxation. You may not feel like exercising during a painful period, but engaging in light exercise such as walking or yoga can help to alleviate the pain. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeine and alcohol is also recommended.
Abdominal pain can be a sign of various underlying health conditions such as gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, or menstrual cramps, an intolerance to certain foods, acid reflux, constipation or IBS. As such, there will be different treatments and management solutions for each of these conditions so if you are experiencing abdominal pain and believe it is caused by an underlying health condition, you should seek advice from your GP or pharmacist.
Generally, resting and avoiding any activities that cause pain is essential when experiencing abdominal pain. Drinking clear fluids such as water, tea, or broth can help prevent dehydration and ease the pain. Over-the-counter pain medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can also help to minimise pain in this region. In some situations, applying heat therapy to the abdomen can help relax muscles and alleviate discomfort. If the pain persists for more than a day or worsens, involves a high temperature, or you begin losing weight quickly, you should call your GP immediately.
Sport injuries can occur during physical activities and can range from mild to severe. Resting the affected area and avoiding any activities that cause pain is essential when experiencing sport injuries. Applying ice therapy to the affected area can help reduce swelling and inflammation. Over-the-counter pain medication such as paracetamol or ibuprofen can also help manage pain, as can pain relief gel like Voltarol. Using compression bandages to support the injured area can help prevent further damage. If the injury is severe or if you have difficulty moving the affected area, scheduling an appointment with your GP is crucial in order to receive appropriate treatment.
Dealing with pain can be a challenging experience, but there are many effective ways to manage it. It’s important to take these steps seriously and seek medical attention if necessary, as ignoring pain can lead to more serious health problems. By taking a proactive approach to pain management, you can alleviate symptoms and get back to your usual daily routines. Remember, if your pain persists or worsens, be sure to consult with your local GP to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.