A Step-by-Step Guide to Pain

A Step-by-Step Guide to Pain

Willow Bark and Aspirin

Today we call it aspirin but the ancient Sumerians and Egyptians have been using willow bark for pain relief and the use of willow bark has been promoted by Pliny the Elder in Rome and Hippocrates, the famous doctor in Greece and the father of medicine that inspires the development of modern aspirin.


Apart from that Opium has been used to relieve pain for millennia according to the Sumerian clay tablet dated about 2100 BC with the world's oldest written list of medical prescriptions, the use of Opium as surgical analgesia is very prominent indeed.


Cannabis use for medicinal purposes, such as an anesthetic during surgery has been dated back to around 8000 BCE according to the evidence unearthed making it one of the oldest drug and cultivated crops.

What is Pain Actually?

By looking at the evolution of the world’s famous three painkillers, now the question arises to what pain actually is. In her paper "A Capsule History of Pain Management" which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Marcia L. Meldrum has stated that pain is the one the oldest medical problems and doctors throughout history have troubles understanding it.

René Descartes of France threw some light on the modern theories of pain in the mid-1600s. According to him, a stimulus of pain in the body is transmitted through the nerve by the spinal cord to an area in the brain where pain is acknowledged.

There are four major types of pain; nociceptive pain due to tissue injury, inflammatory pain as a result of an inappropriate response by the body's immune system, neuropathic pain due to nerve irritation and finally functional pain which are pain without obvious origin.

Recently there has been a fundamental paradigm shift in the science of pain. Pain is created by the brain as an output actively perceived and not necessarily from an input but a preformed sensation from the body.

Drug Pain Management

Drug pain management involves drug treatments and that includes pain relievers which are different types of pain medicines used to reduce or relieve aches and pains with their own benefits and risks.

Some types of medicines work better with some types of pain and the response of each individual to a pain reliever differs. Generally for many types of pain, over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are really good and they can be divided into two main types.

One is known as acetaminophen or Tylenol and another type of pain medicine is known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Examples of OTC NSAIDs are Aspirin, naproxen or Aleve, Ibuprofen or Advil or Motrin.

In case the OTC medicines do not reduce the pain, doctors may prescribe some higher prescription doses of NSAIDs. The most powerful pain relievers are opioids and they are very effective with serious side effects and also risk of addiction which comes under doctor's supervision only.

Pain reliever is just a part of a pain management plan and there are things that can be done to help ease the pain. We are going to give some links for further reading on analgesic, pain killer and pain medicines:

Apart from that, we are listing down some links after researching on the drug treatments for children's and highlighting some topics of interest for parents:

Non-Drug Pain Management

There is a possibility of using non-drug pain management to avoid the side effects and risks of pain relievers. The non-opioid treatment also can be used with the lower dosage of the drug treatment whichever is advocated by the healthcare provider. 

Psychologists are able to treat chronic pain by managing the aspects of physical, emotional, and psychological. It is an essential part of pain management where by understanding and managing thoughts, emotions and behaviors that goes with the pain will help to reduce the pain intensity.

Acupuncture from China origin works by stimulating specific acupuncture points on the body and there are different acupuncture methods available in the market. The most popular one involves inserting thin needles through the skin while others include using pressure, electrical, and heat stimulation.

Acupuncture works on the concept of vital energy or qi that travels along the body at certain paths which are known as meridians and by stimulating the meridians, a balance can be reached.

Electronic devices are used to measure body functions such as pulse, breathing, and heart rate so it can be controlled. This is biofeedback techniques and it can be used to control pain, especially chronic headaches and back pain.

There are three types of electrical stimulations where a device is used to send a low electric current to nerves or muscles to interrupt or block the pain signals and it includes transcutaneous electrical stimulation (TENS), implanted electrical nerve stimulation and deep brain or spinal cord stimulation.

A treatment where body soft tissues are kneaded, rubbed, tapped, and stroked is known as massage therapy. In a way among other benefits of massage therapy is to help people to relax, reduce the stress and relieve the pain.

Chiropractic emphasizes one's body's ability to heal by itself and it involves manual therapy such as spinal manipulation, exercise and nutritional counseling. Many patients have been visiting chiropractors for alignment problems, back pain, neck pain and headaches.

Magnets for pain is a new approach to pain and is usually encased in a wrap or sold in a product that is used at a place where the pain is felt.

Meditation is a practice of mind-body where the practitioner will focus attention on something that helps minimizing distracting or stressful thoughts or feelings.

Osteopathic Manipulation Treatment or OMT is a hands-on method to treat mechanical pain and other types of health conditions by applying gentle pressure to manipulate the muscles, soft tissues and joints to heal by itself by making sure the bones and muscles are properly aligned and balanced.

Rehabilitation improves a patient's daily life and functioning and is able to control pain and the treatment depends on the patient's need and goals.

Tai Chi and Qi Gong are safe practices that use movements which can be practiced whether standing, sitting or walking by focusing mentally, breathing and relaxing by balancing certain postures and gentle movements.

Yoga is a spiritual way of living that can be used to maintain physical and mental well being by focusing on posture, breathing and meditation.

Apart from that there are techniques, methods  and therapy that is able to control pain:

  • Physical therapy
  • Psychotherapy
  • Relaxation therapy
  • Surgery
  • Ayurveda
  • Siddha
  • Homeopathy
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Energy healing therapy
  • Folk medicine
  • Guided imagery
  • Hypnosis
  • Naturopathy
  • Nonvitamin, nonmineral, dietary supplements
  • Traditional healer

Home Remedy

Guggul is made from the gum resin of Commiphora wightii tree and when it is mixed with water. Then to make a paste it is rubbed hard against any hard surface and heated. Take this thick and lukewarm paste rub on the affected body part to relieve pain due to bone fracture, swelling, internal wound or lumps.

For those who have arthritis, backache, waist pain, knee pain or excessive gas pain it is advised to take 1 gram of Guggul with a teaspoon of honey twice a day until the pain gets reduced.

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