8 Ways How Pain Can Affect Your Life!

By Dr. (Prof) Mary Abraham in Pain Management

Sep 22 , 2017 | 4 min read


Pain can be a chronic and a complex condition and pain struggles in life can take a toll on an individual’s overall well-being. It usually affects 1 in 4 persons. Do you know chronic pain affects more people than conditions like combined cancer, heart disease and diabetes? Yet people do not address it immediately plastic surgery for scars on face.

What Causes Pain?

Dr. (Prof) Mary Abraham says pain is an unpleasant emotional experience, which is usually associated with a physical and emotional component. Since it is a subjective sensation, we have to believe the patient and their pain struggles in life.

Know the Different Types of Pain

  • Acute Pain

    The pain usually lasts less than 6 weeks. It is a protective response of the body caused by an injury or an inflammation-like operation, fracture, sprains, boils, cuts or burns, kidney pain or stones.
  • Chronic Pain

    Usually the pain lasts for more than 3 months. This can affect the functional capability of an individual as well as psychologically and socially impact them. The most common chronic pain is musculoskeletal pain like a lower back pain or severe arthritis.

How does Pain Affect Your Quality of Life?

  •  Affects sleep
  • Decreased mobility
  • Decreases the ability to exercise
  • Affects the appetite
  • Difficulty in doing household chores
  • Unable to participate in social & community activities – social functions
  • A person gets moody and depressed
  • Even cognitive function affected (thinking, reasoning, concentrating on a job, memory)

Are You Having Back Pain? Know Why?

Causes of a backache

  • Poor conditioning of back & abdominal muscles
  • Sprain that can be caused by sports or ligaments injury in youngsters
  • Strain – muscle injury
  • Poor posture
  • Overweight
  • Standing for a long period
  • Sudden Fall
  • Lifting heavy weights
  • Bending and twisting of muscles

What Causes Acute Back Pain?

80% of people experience acute back pain once in their lifetime. Recovery occurs in 90% in 2 weeks time. The pain will settle down with rest, having simple analgesics, applying muscle relaxants and cold packs. Acupuncture is also a good strategy to reduce the pain. Only in 10% of people does acute back pain become chronic.

Precautions to be Taken

  • No exercises in the acute phase. 
  • Do not take bed rest for more than 2 to 3 days.
  • Start gentle exercises in a graded manner after 2 weeks like strengthening and stretching exercises. Consulting a good physiotherapist can help.
  • Only if pain persists more than 6 weeks, then consult a specialist and an MRI may need to be done.

How to Manage Back Pain?

  • Medicines
  • Interventional pain management – spinal injection of steroids
  • Surgery 
  • Non-drug treatment
  • Treat associated problems such as depression, anxiety – by counselling
  • Physiotherapy – to strengthen muscles & increase mobility
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Meditation

Also Read about the Physiotherapy for Back Pain

Let’s talk about Chronic Back Pain

What is Sciatica Pain?

This condition is due to the irritation of the sciatic nerve ( the major and large nerve that goes down the leg); the pain usually travels throughout the leg. The usual cause of sciatica is compression of the nerve by a slipped disc or spinal degeneration (L4, 5, or S1).

Signs and symptoms of Sciatica
-      Moderate pain and numbness in the lower back, buttocks, and legs. (severe pain in some patients)
-      Pain increases with movement
-      Loss of bladder control and bowel control

Physical Therapy for Sciatica
Physical therapy for Sciatica is a boon for patients who are facing pain struggles in life. Some of the most effective physical therapy options for Sciatica include the following:
-      Extension and flexion back exercises: These exercises mainly include backward and forward bending, respectively.
-      Strengthening exercises: Isometric and isotonic exercises are beneficial in improving muscle strength.
-      Functional retraining: This training includes the gradual reintroduction of exercises such as bending, squatting, and lifting.
-      Joint mobilization: In this technique, the therapist uses the optimum amount of pressure to effectively mobilize the joint.

What is Slipped Disc Pain?
Slipped disc pain is a sharp and burning effect that is caused when a soft cushion present between the bones in the spine pushes out.

Signs & Symptoms of Slipped disc

70 to 80% of the slipped disc cases will recover in 1 year. However, these patients feel severe pain throughout the leg that decreases their mobility significantly.  This requires medical intervention. You may feel:

  • Pain is severe and travelling down the leg
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Increase in pain while coughing and sneezing
  • Increase in pain on sitting, standing and walking and decreases on lying down

Are There Any Red Flags?

  • History of fever or sudden loss of weight
  • History of cancer
  • Sudden onset of pain in elderly people         
  • Pain in the night
  • Difficulty in passing or controlling urine
  • Weakness or loss of sensation in the legs 
  • Any swelling on the spine

This has to be taken seriously and investigations should be done to rule out any major problem. Less than 5% of back pain is due to a serious illness.

Treatment of a Slipped Disc

Bed rest is not the answer. As far as possible, the slight movement should be done. In a sudden onset of pain, doctors’ advice that best rest should not be more than 2 to 3 days as it can be harmful. Below mentioned options can help you in relieving the pain:

Non-drug therapy

  •  Ice packs
  • Restricted activity – not more than 2 days. Encourage movement in the house
  • Avoid bending, lifting weights


  • Analgesics & muscle relaxants
  • Anti-convulsants drugs

Interventional pain management

  • Nerve root injection
  • Epidural steroids


  • Microdiscectomy

Thus, it’s important to take the right step before the pain aggravates to a great extent. Consult a doctor today if you are suffering from any one of the different types of pain.