Nearly every part of your body is vulnerable to pain. Acute pain warns us that something may be wrong. Chronic pain can rob us of our daily life, making it difficult and even unbearable.

What Is Acute Pain?

Acute pain begins suddenly and is usually sharp in quality. It serves as a warning of disease or a threat to the body. Acute pain may beAcute Pain caused by many events or circumstances, including:

  •  Surgery
  •  Broken bones
  •  Dental work
  •  Burns or cuts
  •  Labor and childbirth

     Acute pain may be mild and last just a moment, or it may be severe and last for weeks or months. In most cases, acute pain does not last longer than six months and it disappears when the underlying cause of pain has been treated or has healed. Unrelieved acute pain, however, may lead to chronic pain.

What Is Chronic Pain?

Chronic PainChronic pain persists despite the fact that an injury has healed. Pain signals remain active in the nervous system for weeks, months, or years. Physical effects include tense muscles, limited mobility, a lack of energy, and changes in appetite. Emotional effects include depression, anger, anxiety, and fear of re-injury. Such a fear may hinder a person's ability to return to normal work or leisure activities. Common chronic pain complaints include:Low Back Pain

  •  Headache
  •  Low Back Pain
  •  Arthritis pain
  •  Cancer pain
  •  Neurogenic pain (pain resulting from damage to nerves)
  •  Psychogenic pain (pain not due to past disease or injury or any visible sign of damage inside)

     Chronic pain may have originated with an initial trauma/injury or infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain. However, some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or evidence of body damage.

Measuring Pain

     The World Health Organization has a "pain ladder" with 3 steps. The steps are mild pain, moderate pain, and severe pain.

  • Mild pain: Mild pain is self-limited. It goes away either with no therapy at all or with the use of nonprescription medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
  • Moderate pain: Moderate pain is worse than mild pain. It interferes with function. You may be unable to ignore the pain and go on with all of the activities of daily living, but it goes away after a while and doesn't come back after it has been treated.
  • Severe pain: Severe pain is defined as pain that interferes with some or all of the activities of daily living. You may be confined to bed or chair rest because of the severity of the pain. Often, it doesn't go away, and treatment needs to be continuous for days, weeks, months, or years.

     According to the American Pain Foundation, there are more than 50 million Americans suffering from chronic pain, or 25 million experiencing acute pain as a result of injury or surgery.

How Is Pain Treated?

Depending upon its severity, pain may be treated in a number of ways. Symptomatic options for the treatment of pain may include one or more of the following:

  • Drug treatments such as non-prescription medications like Aleve, Motrin and Tylenol or Pain Treatmentstronger medications such as morphine, codeine or anesthesia.
  • Nerve blocks (the blocking of a group of nerves with local anesthetics)
  • Alternative treatments such as acupuncture, relaxation and biofeedback.
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery
  • Psychological counseling
  • Behavior modification

     If you're a pain sufferer, here's some good news: Plenty of options exist to ease aches, and many of them don't come in pill form. After all, modern drugs only entered the market recently, and arthritis, menstrual cramps, post-surgery pain, and other aches and pains soothed by the drug have been around and managed for a much longer time period.

The Treatment of Pain with Traditional Chinese Medicine.

     Easing pain with needles may sound agonizing, but acupuncture is an ancient form of pain relief.
Traditional Chinese Medicine    In the treatment of pain, the primary difference between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine is that TCM methods such as acupuncture and herbal treatments have virtually no side effects. This is because acupuncture works in an entirely different manner. For example, the NSAIDs commonly used to relieve pain provide short-term relief by blocking the production of pain-creating substances called prostaglandins. But in addition to creating pain, prostaglandins are also vasodilators, which help enhance circulation. Therefore inhibiting their production has the harmful side effect of decreasing blood supply to the muscles and joints, which ultimately slows the recovery process.
     Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) creates an entirely opposite effect. Acupuncture, tui na and herbal applications work to stimulate the central nervous system, which in turn releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord and brain. These chemicals either alter the perception of pain or release other chemicals that influence the body's self-regulating systems. These biochemical changes support the body's natural healing abilities, improve circulation, and promote physical and emotional well-being. When circulation in the tissue improves, muscle relaxation occurs and pain is reduced. In some cases, improved circulation may cause the pain to increase, but this is followed by accelerated repair of the tissue. Proper circulation is important not only for the blood to nourish the tissue, but also for eliminating muscle fatigue and pain-causing substances such as lactic acid.
     In 1997, the National Institutes of Health (U.S.) officially recognized acupuncture as an effective treatment for pain. According to the 1997 NIH panel, clinical studies showed that acupuncture therapy is helpful in treating many types of chronic pain, including headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, neck pain, low back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. Recent studies also suggest that topical herbal compounds like those used in Traditional Chinese Medicine are very effective for reducing chronic pain.