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Complex Pain

Complex pain may be caused due to multiple factors that are not always clearly understood. It may be secondary to malignant (cancerous) or non-malignant conditions.

Causes of Complex Pain

Complex pain may occur because of:

  • Nerve injury from surgery, infection, herniated discs or infections
  • Bone and soft tissue injury that may occur because of accidents falls or trauma
  • Organ pain such as pancreatic pain or abdominal pain
  • Malignancy
  • Stroke or heart attack

Management of Complex Pain Secondary to Non-Malignant Conditions

A combination of different treatments is generally provided to relieve complex pain conditions. The various treatment options for the management of complex pain secondary to non-malignant conditions include:

  • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain medications may be recommended to help ease mild pain. If the pain is severe, opioid medications at the appropriate doses may be prescribed by your doctor. The medications may be administered on the skin, orally or as injections.
  • Antidepressants and anticonvulsants: These medications have proven to be effective in relieving pain caused due to nerve injury.
  • Corticosteroid medication: These medications reduce inflammation and pain as well as promote healing of tissue.
  • Bone-loss medication: These medications help prevent or reduce bone loss and can be effective in treating complex pain due to the chronic bone and joint conditions.
  • Nerve-block injections: These injections block the transmission of pain signals through the nerves.
  • Intrathecal drug pumps: Special pumps are attached to an implanted catheter, which delivers pain medications directly into your spinal fluid.
  • Spinal cord stimulation: Tiny electrodes are inserted along your spine through which electrical current is delivered to the spinal cord to relieve pain.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation: A special device called the TENS unit is used to stimulate nerve endings and reduce the perception of pain.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy improves your strength and mobility, which will help in the management of complex pain.
  • Biofeedback: These are special techniques that help increase the awareness of your body sensations to better control your response to pain.

Management of Complex Pain Secondary to Malignant Conditions

Pain secondary to malignant conditions may be due to cancer itself, which may cause bone pain or spinal cord compression, or the treatments for cancer such as surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Pain medication may be prescribed by your doctor to be taken in the form of pills, skin patches, rectal suppositories, injections, or patient-controlled analgesia. When pain is severe, strong opioid medications will be prescribed by your doctor. You must strictly follow the instructions provided by your doctor regarding the dosage and how often you should take these medications to avoid side effects. Other medications and methods of pain relief as mentioned above may also be provided for the management of complex pain secondary to malignant conditions.