FAST FACTS: Pain 101
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. There are two main categories of pain: Acute Pain and Persistent or Chronic Pain.
- Has a distinct beginning
- Usually has a known cause
- Short lasting
- Common causes are trauma or postsurgical pain
Persistent or Chronic Pain
- Does not resolve in the expected amount of time
- Often associated with damage to the body and psychological issues
- May occur without any past injury or trauma
- Can vary in character and intensity over time
- Chronic pain occurs at least half of the days for 6 months or more; after 6 months, is it called persistent pain
- To determine the best course of treatment, your healthcare provider will perform a complete evaluation to determine:
- Underlying cause of pain
- Pain characteristics
- Impact of pain on physical, emotional, and social functioning, and quality of life
- Your report of pain is the most reliable evidence of intensity and impact on function
- Your healthcare provider should assess for pain at each visit and use a standard pain scale
- The goal of pain management is to find the correct balance between pain relief, functional impairment, and side effects of any medication used for to treat pain. A combination of drug and nondrug treatments may lower the dose of medications needed and reduce side effects from those medications
- Nondrug treatment approaches may include physical and psychosocial therapies.
- Physical Therapy examples: exercise (walking, tai chi, yogi), Acupuncture, TENS, Massage, Heat.
- Psychosocial Therapy examples: Cognitive-Behavioral therapy, Guided Imagery with progressive muscle relaxation, Music, Meditation
What Else You Should Do
- Write down and share information about your pain with your healthcare provider
- Use a Pain Diary to note important information useful to the healthcare provider
- Try a non-drug treatment and document the impact on your pain in your Pain Diary
- Reuben DB, Herr KA, Pacala JT, et al. Geriatrics At Your Fingertips: 2021, 23rd Edition. New York: The American Geriatrics Society; 2021.
Revised January 2022