Pain relief without the pain killers-A A +A
Monday, September 16, 2013
QUOTING from Carol Porth, a nurse with a doctorate degree in physiology: “Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual and potential tissue damage, or, described in terms of such damage.”
Furthermore, she states that “attention, motivation, past experiences, and the meaning of the situation can influence the individual’s reaction to pain.”
“Thus, pain involves anatomic structures, physiologic behaviors, and psychological, social, cultural, and cognitive factors,” she concludes.
Most literatures written by health experts claim that pain is a subjective experience but nevertheless real for the individual suffering from such.
As Josie Udan, author of ‘Mastering Fundamentals of Nursing: Concepts and Clinical Application’ puts it: “[Pain is] whatever the patient says it is; it exists whenever the patient says it does; it is subjective in nature, only the person experiencing it may describe it; and it is protective because it provides warning signal for tissue injury.”
While there are many theories circulating among libraries about pain, the theory of Gate Control by scientists Wall and Melzack holds that there is an imaginary gate in the spinal cord called ‘subatantia gelatinosa.’
“When this gate is open, pain stimulus is transmitted, thus, pain is perceived,” they explain.
Conversely, “when the gate is closed, pain stimulus is blocked thus, no pain is perceived.”
Let me share a not-so remote firsthand encounter with a patient in pain.
I was about to leave my workplace when a male student approached me panting as he pleaded for help.
Rather confused, I asked what the matter was. He responded that a female classmate of his was in intense pain immobilizing her in their room. So with him, I hurriedly ran to their classroom.
As I entered the scene, the female victim, who was in her late teens was lying flat on the floor, looking pale, crying and was in excruciating epigastric pain.
As I did an initial assessment, my first suspicion was appendicitis. But as seconds went on, I realized it must have been something else as telltale signs speak otherwise.
I positioned her to comfort and ask other onlookers to call for an ambulance.
When another male faculty entered the room, he volunteered to take the victim to the nearest hospital since he had his car.
Tagging two of his friends, we transported the victim.
While inside the car, she was screaming and crying. Her pain must have been too much to bear for her.
I then remembered some non-pharmacologic approaches to temporarily reliving pain.
First I instructed her to focus her attention in counting backwards from 100 to 0.
Theoretically this would cause a distraction in the attention of his nervous system by closing the ‘substantia gelatinosa.’ This in turn will cause a temporary modulation of pain.
When efforts provided seemed to fail, I remember one anesthesiologist who taught me that one effective way of providing transient relief to pain is to ‘trick’ the brain by pinching the skin.
This method would enhance secretion of a certain chemical called ‘serotonin’ that would block transmission of pain impulses, thus reducing pain.
The combination of these two techniques was effective, at least to the victim that we were helping.
To cut the story short, after arriving in the emergency department of the hospital, the physician diagnosed the victim as having an acute gastritis.
She was given an intravenous dose of omeprazole, a certain drug that would decrease the gastric acid secretion that caused the victim’s pain.
When interviewed, the victim confessed that she had eaten a certain street food before the painful episode. But that is another story.
She was then discharged and was prescribed with medications for her gastritis.
For now, it’s good to know that there are measures to relieve pain that does not involve medications.
And it pays to have general background in non-pharmacologic pain relief just in case.
(Email the columnist at: email@example.com)
Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 17, 2013.