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  • Writer's pictureDr Daniel Phang

The Science Behind Your Pains And How Best To Treat Them

Updated: Jan 22

Pain is an unpleasant sensation that usually indicates an underlying injury or illness. A highly complex and sophisticated protective mechanism, pain arises as to warn us that our bodies are in danger of sustaining injury. The desired result is development of protective behaviours or movement to reduce or prevent said injury.

How does pain arise

While the pain can be caused by various circumstances such as physical or traumatic accidents, pain may also be insidious and arise in the absence of apparent damage. Such examples include back and neck pain from sedentary lifestyles, which accumulate over time and lead to long-term discomfort.


ur pain receptors are commonly termed as nociceptors. These numerous sensory nerves are sensors that serve as little foot soldiers, relaying vital information of damaging stimuli to our central control system – the brain.

Furthermore, our brains interpret how we feel pain. Pain, as we know it consciously, is a combination of our brains’ interpretation of the nociceptor reports and our cognitive data; past experiences, circumstances, and emotions all add to the experience. This is how our brain makes us aware of the dangers imposed upon our bodies; it also becomes a unique experience; thus, pain tolerance varies across different individuals.

To understand and manage pain better, it’s crucial first to identify whether it is acute and chronic pain. Following this, seeking an accurate diagnosis and treatment will pave the way for swift recovery.

1. Acute pain

This type of pain is commonplace and short-lived, typically spanning a couple of days or weeks. Generally associated with common illnesses or minor injuries like cuts and sprains, acute pain tends to occur when damage is imposed by an external source and subsides as your wound heals.

Some symptoms of such discomfort include sharp, stabbing pains or dull aches in the affected area. If you are experiencing acute pain, it’s your body’s way of indicating that your health is compromised. Usually, the experience is distressing enough for most people to address it immediately.

Most individuals seek treatment for their acute pains through over-the-counter medicines and ointments, which aids in temporary pain relief. The primary aim is to reduce immobility and improve quality of life. However, an over-reliance on such medications may reduce drug efficacy. Apart from medication, consider engaging in physical therapy or light exercise; it can improve activity and impart a sense of well-being, thus soothing the pain. If your pain is left untreated over an extensive period, it can develop into chronic pain.

2. Chronic pain

Severe and/or persistent pain for more than 3 months, also known as chronic pain, is a global phenomenon and has impact both on healthcare and the economy.

Chronic pain usually results from an underlying health condition such as arthritis or a precipitating incident like an injury. In some instances, some patients also suffer from chronic pain without sustaining any prior injuries.

This pain may last for years, whereby your body continues to trigger pain signals in your brain long after your injury heals. The affected area of your body will continue to experience agonising sensations, which can cause adverse effects like limited mobility and strength. Carrying out daily tasks and activities will prove to be a challenging feat.

There is no sure-fire cure for chronic pain, but this condition is best managed with multidisciplinary approaches adopted by pain management clinics. Most patients gravitate towards injections – referred to as nerve blocks – in which they are injected with a potent mixture of an anaesthetic and steroid in the affected area to alleviate their pain temporarily.

The different types of pain medications

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing your pain. The extent of pain and the respective affected areas differ across various individuals, so consulting a pain medicine physician to delineate your sources of discomfort and chart out a personalised pain treatment plan can aid you in combating your affliction better.

Whether it’s acute or chronic pain, these medical experts will utilise a combination of psychological and biomedical strategies to help you cope with the pain. Moreover, patients are provided with a wide range of thorough care, such as counselling, rehabilitation, and valuable advice for optimal medication and procedural interventions.

When addressing mild symptoms like acute pain, these specialists may advise you with standard medications that offer momentary pain relief, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen (an anti-inflammatory drug). On the other hand, if you have been suffering from long-term chronic neuropathic pain, your physician can suggest the most suitable nerve pain treatment for your condition.


Led by certified pain management physician Dr Daniel Phang, our experienced team at The Anaesthesia And Pain Practice take pride in executing quality and comfortable treatments in Singapore tailored to every patient’s medical needs. Embark on your rehabilitation journey with us: we will ensure that you achieve a speedy recovery as soon as possible.


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