The Best ‘Pain Management Strategy’ for Acute and Chronic Pain
Do you find yourself wondering if your pain is caused by an acute injury, or it's something deeper down and chronic? Well, thankfully it's pretty easy to tell the difference between these two types of pain. However, the pain management strategies for both of these pain types are strikingly similar. Why manage two different types of pain the same way? And why would you just manage your pain, when you can conquer it instead?
In today's post, we're dissecting the difference between acute and chronic pain, how medicine tells you to manage it, and how to overcome it!
What's the Difference Between Acute and Chronic Pain?
Acute injuries are usually quick and event-related often with some profanity thrown in. A twist of the ankle, pop in the knee or a once stiff appendage now nauseatingly wet noodleish. When thinking of acute pain, think of sudden injuries. Acute pain usually presents some of the following:
- Fast on-set pain
Now with chronic pain think of a dull ache or soreness lasting more than 12 weeks, a back or neckache that never entirely goes away. Chronic pain can feel like any of these:
- Slow to intermediate on-set pain
- Pain in the a$$ and doesn't seem to go away
Got it? Good!
For our purposes, we are going to look at acute injuries and chronic pain separately. But by the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of how a severe injury, no matter how minor, can have lasting effects on the body.
How to Handle Acute Pain (the Right Way!)
- If Emergent Care is not required, you can try the application of heat or ice, compression, and elevation. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen to reduce swelling (note that these are not for “pain management”).
- Physical therapy.
- Exercise and Strengthening
How to Handle Chronic Pain (the Right Way!)
- Identify the source
- Educate Yourself on possible causes
- Release Tight Muscles
- Strengthen Weak Muscles
Standard Practice ‘Pain Management' Strategies
Let's address something very important to MoveU. We hate the words the terms ‘manage', ‘live with', or ‘cope with pain'. That language makes it sound like you are a helpless victim! You are absolutely not! You're resilient, and your body wants to heal, you just haven't given it the opportunity, yet.
Standard medical practice doesn't address the concept that you are not your pain, and you just live with it. So the common practice these days are to just prescribe some pain management strategies and send you on your way.
Pain Management Common Practice
If you're seeking a medical route for your pain, your journey might look something like this. You make an appointment (usually two weeks away), you get some sort of scan (X-Ray, MRI, etc), then your doctor gives you a diagnosis based on that scan. Your doctor will come up with some kind of treatment plan, which usually includes avoiding exercise, prescriptions, and seeing a chiropractor, or physical therapist for months on end. When your pain doesn't subside, then they'll tell you it's time for a procedure to correct it.
Unfortunately, the system is set up to fail when it comes to pain. This journey doesn't work if we're not looking at what caused the pain in the first place, but instead just giving a diagnosis. In the end, it either doesn’t work, or it comes with deadly side effects. Every step of this journey is riddled with problems.
Aside from aspirin, all over-the-counter NSAIDs must carry a warning about the risks of heart attack and stroke along with other side effects. And NSAIDs have other dangers, too. They can cause high blood pressure and kidney damage in some people. They can also cause potentially severe allergic reactions. And this is usually the first step in the common practice pain management strategies! That's a lot of risk for the very first step to ‘managing' your pain.
In 2016, health care providers across the US wrote more than 214 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication—a rate of 66.5 prescriptions per 100 people. More than 40% of all US opioid overdose deaths in 2016 involved a prescription opiate.
There has been little high-quality scientific research to determine whether or not Spinal Manipulation Therapy is safe and really works. Even the most promising sources of research have had severe quality control problems making it impossible to be sure of the results.
The average outpatient course of care is only seven to ten sessions, and reimbursement rates—as well as the number of payer-approved visits for physical therapy services—are remaining largely stagnant and, in some cases, decreasing.
There was a 220% increase in spinal fusion surgery between 1990 and 2000 for low back pain with no clear indications or proof of efficacy.
The problem with the current pain management model is that its symptom-focused, or as in the case of Physiotherapy is based on insurance protocols, not actual patients. No one wants to treat symptoms the rest of their lives or have to make two extra appointments a week so let's get to the root cause of the problem!
Underlying Causes of Chronic Pain
Alignment & Weakness
Yep, it's as simple as that.
If something is misaligned or your posture is off even just a little bit, this can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort. But not immediately.
Think of your body like the tires on your car, if everything is aligned you're good to go for many miles. However, if one tire is misaligned or under-inflated, even just a little you're going to burn through tires a lot faster. The problem tire is going to wear out first and be the obvious issue, but then you're going to notice that the other tires are wearing out as well, due to overcompensating for the problem tire.
The body is no different; it is a master adapter. If you rolled your ankle years ago, and now you tend to shift your weight slightly more to one side, given enough time your knee, hip, low back, shoulder, and neck will likely be affected.
So How do You Fix it?
The answer is obvious, although the path to being “pain-free” isn't easy. You must Strengthen Yourself into Alignment.
There are a million problems with a million more exercises to address them. However, nothing compares to learning body awareness and knowing how to hold your body throughout daily life. THAT IS THE CURE! 30 mins of exercises two times a week at your local physical therapy office is about as useful as wishing your tire would align itself. No, you must take control of your body and its position, every single day.
How to Stop The Pain From Taking Over
Work on controlling your thoughts about your pain. In the age of insurance companies cutting costs and a looming opioid epidemic, there are vast resources being dumped into alternative methods. One of them is cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, and we've talked about this before. It's important to healing.
By learning to avoid the pain cycle, you can halt the cascading effect of negative thoughts, emotions, as these often lead to increased physical symptoms of pain.
Learning to control your thoughts surrounding pain is the first step; your emotional state and environment are the next. Breathing might be the single best thing you can do for your mental, emotional and physical health. Control the controllable by reducing stress through breathwork. Breathing and meditation can also have a significant impact on pain perception.
Anxiety and stress are states that tend to signal fight or flight responses in us. The minute our alarm wakes us up we are in a low-level stress response mode. We take shallow breaths, downing a coffee while sitting in traffic or on a crowded train, causing tension resulting in tight and constricted muscles. Specifically the Psoas, which is basically the fetal position muscle and the most common culprit in low back pain and hip pain. Coincidence? Probably not!
Learn how to align yourself and get moving! Stop thinking about “pain management strategies” and start thinking about the ways you can live without pain. Alright, life isn’t entirely painless, but you need to know how to move correctly to break the pain cycle!
Now take your positive thoughts, your powerful breathwork and your newfound knowledge of how to hold and move your body and go kick some ass!
MoveU can be your guide!
The MoveU program is specifically designed to help you address and identify the underlying causes of your pain, where it’s coming from, and why. It gives you the knowledge to overcome your chronic pain or even acute injuries that pop up from daily life.
Want to learn more about how to break the pain cycle with the MoveU Program? Click here! Ready to stop living in the pain cycle, buy the program now and stop waiting for your doctor's appointment, start today! Have questions, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by David Schroer