Pain Centre

Updated 07 July 2014

Preventing acute pain

How do you prevent yourself from getting acute pain?


The cause of acute pain is usually obvious: a sudden injury of some kind caused by an accident of some sorts, or the pain felt after an operation.

While pain after an operation can be anticipated, the pain which is the result of an accidental injury certainly cannot. Preventing acute pain is often simply about avoiding injury, which requires sticking to safety guidelines, both at work and in your private life.

It also entails listening to the pain signals sent out by your body, doing what you can to strengthen your muscles to protect them from injury, and to improve your posture in order to relieve tension in particular areas of your body. Lastly, you can take steps to protect your joints.

Read: What is pain?

Home and work injuries

Safety precautions entail wearing protective gear when necessary, following instructions when doing anything that entails working with machinery or DIY equipment, and using the right tools for particular jobs, whether at work or at home.

Injuries in the home are often caused by people tripping over objects in walkways, slipping on loose carpets or wet floors, coming into contact with faulty wiring, or not taking the necessary precautions when doing something such as taking a hot dish from the oven. Kitchens and bathrooms are often the scene of injuries.

The first because cooking and food preparation happen here and kitchens contain things such as sharp knives, breakable crockery and kettles of boiling water. Bathroom surfaces are most often tiled, often wet and therefore slippery. Many household injuries can be prevented by being mindful of basic safety precautions.

Putting strain on the body

Many injuries that result in acute pain are the result of actions such as improper lifting, or overzealous exercising.

When lifting things, it is always important to remember to let your knees, rather than your back, bear the brunt of the lifting. Many back injuries, which could lead to a chronic back problem, are the result of overstraining the back when lifting heavy objects.

It is also important to know the limits of your body when you engage in exercise. Remember pain is the body’s way of alerting you to a possible problem.

A sudden painful sensation in your knee or ankle while you are out running, could be a warning sign that you need to stop. Never exercise through the pain – you will only be making it worse, and run the risk of the injury turning into a chronic problem. Sprains and strains are often the result of our ignoring the pain signals sent by the body.

Read: What is acute pain?

Exercise, posture and joint protection

Treat your body well, and it will treat you well. A body used to moderate exercise on a constant basis will be strong, flexible and fit, and much less prone to experience injury. If you strengthen the muscles around key potential problem areas, such as the back, you are much less likely to injure it.

Exercise will also help towards maintenance of a healthy weight, which is important as added weight puts strain on your health as a whole, not to speak of your joints.

Sit up straight and maintain a good posture. Slouching puts the muscles in your back under great strain, and makes you prone to back injuries. Good posture can relieve stress in areas such as the neck, shoulders, hips, legs and knees.

Be mindful of your joints and prevent overuse or injury by strengthening the muscles around them. If you have a joint problem, try and avoid high-impact sports and other activities that could put strain on your joints. Try swimming instead, which is not a weight-bearing exercise.

Read more:

Symptoms of acute pain
The importance of feeling pain



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