How to Manage Pain After an Injury

When accidents happen on the job or at home, it is difficult to deal with the pain that can accompany an injury. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), injury is the leading cause of death among men and women age 15 to 44 and will be the third leading cause of death and disability in all ages in 2020.

Generally, when a person experiences pain from an injury, it can be broken down into two categories —  acute and chronic. Acute pain can happen immediately after a fall, sprain, or other injury, and will often dissipate after the body has healed. On the other hand, chronic pain can be long-lasting and require medications and services to manage.

Acute Pain

Generally, pain that lasts for no longer than three to six months is considered acute. Many over-the-counter treatments work well to manage this short-term discomfort. Aspirin or acetaminophen can be helpful medications, and other well-known adages – like RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) can help with sprains or minor muscle injuries.

Depending on the severity of the acute pain – for example, the pain a woman may experience during childbirth – prescription medications and hospital care become necessary.

Sometimes acute pain can develop into lasting, chronic pain.

Chronic Pain

Pain that lasts for three months or longer is considered chronic pain. Unfortunately, the Institute of Medicine reports that more than 100 million American adults suffer from chronic pain. Some common causes of chronic pain are arthritis, back injuries, Fibromyalgia, or the neurological pain association with shingles.

Chronic pain treatment can be complex and will usually rely on a combination of treatments for the patient to feel better. Medication, physical therapy, surgery, and lifestyle changes can all be meaningful solutions to concurring chronic pain.

Pain Management for Specific Injuries   

Tailoring individualized pain management is the most important aspect of learning how to cope with your pain. As a beginning reference point, below we will examine some common origins of pain and how to address specific aspects of each.

Managing the Pain of a Traumatic Injury

Suffering a traumatic injury like a car or motorcycle accident can lead to both physical and mental suffering. Unfortunately, road traffic crashes are one of the main causes of injury responsible for approximately 50 million injuries, per year, worldwide.

Acute pain from a traumatic injury can lead to disorientation which could exacerbate developing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the trauma. Not only can traumatic injury create lasting mental distress, but pain management of the elderly and of children is especially challenging because these patients often present with multiple chronic medical conditions or heightened anxiety, respectively.

Both acute pain and chronic pain stemming from a serious injury can be treated with prescription medication and tailored physical therapy.

Managing the Pain of a Burn Injury

Pain and discomfort are an unfortunate part of burn injury and the subsequent recovery.

A key element in managing lasting pain from a burn injury is relaxation. This type of injury places immense stress on the body, which can continue through long portions of the recovery phase. Tension and stress causes muscle tightening, which can increase pain, but undertaking relaxation techniques can lessen the stress placed on your body and therefore mitigate pain.

Many natural movements and concentration remedies can mitigate pain like deep breathing, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation. Yoga combines deep, expansive breathing with slow, intentional stretching, which can lead to pain relief and increased energy.

Managing the Pain of a Back Injury

Many Americans deal with the pain associated with a back injury – from a slipped disk to strain to a fractured vertebra. However, the lower back is the most common site of back injuries and back pain. Radiating pain and numbness can be associated with back pain.

Over the counter medications like ibuprofen are the first line of defense, and when paired with physical therapy, can lead to recovery or a decrease in pain. While visiting a chiropractor or doctor to discuss options is likely the best option when it comes to back pain, there are some simple remedies that might be helpful in the interim.

Primarily, keep moving and stay strong. Continuing daily activities – like walking the dog or cooking dinner – can help keep a robust range of motion. Additionally, thinking about and maintain good posture can help build stronger back muscles and reduce continuing pain.

Words of Warning When Self-Treating Pain


It is important to note that opioid use for chronic pain management is often essential and appropriate. When properly prescribed and overseen by a doctor, these addictive pharmaceuticals can be life-changing for those suffering from-lasting, severe pain.

However, with the national focus on the dangers of opioid abuse, a word of warning about self-treatment is important. Indeed, the opioid epidemic is a complex problem with many contributing factors, one of which includes undertreated pain.

With a clear understanding of the complexity of the sometimes negative effects of opioids, it is increasingly critical that you work with a doctor on an individualized pain management plan that could include a proper dosage of opioids for a determinable length of time.


Self-treating pain with alcohol can be dangerous.

When drinking alcohol to subdue pain, a person’s tolerance can increase, meaning that more alcohol will be needed to achieve the pain relief desired. Then logically, when a person’s tolerance has increased and he or she is drinking to excess in order to ward off pain, it is possible for that person to suffer alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal.

If a person has seen a physician but feels like the pain is not being managed satisfactorily, reaching to alcohol might be seen as a gap filler. However, many prescription pain medications can interact negatively with alcohol and cause further health problems.

Coping With Pain

Dealing with acute or chronic pain stemming from an injury can be difficult and stressful, but by making use of over-the-counter medications and physical remedies like yoga, some pain can be relieved.

If more involved pain management is required, seeking out professionals to create an individualized plan that consists of prescription medications, wellness interventions, physical therapy, and alignment can successfully stymie the pain from an injury.