Chronic Pain (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Medicines can often help control chronic pain. Many different drugs, both prescription and nonprescription, are used to treat chronic pain. All these medicines can cause side effects and should be taken exactly as they are prescribed. In some cases, it may take several weeks before medicines work to reduce pain. To avoid dangerous drug interactions, tell your doctor all the medicines you are taking (including herbal and other complementary medicines).
You will likely be given medicines that cause the fewest side effects first (such as acetaminophen) to treat chronic pain. The dose will be increased or the medicines will be changed as needed. Medicines used to treat chronic pain include the following:
Other therapies that may be used to treat chronic pain include:
What to think about
Medicine may work best when it is used in combination with other types of treatment, such as physical therapy and counseling, to address the different causes of chronic pain. Each person tolerates and responds to medicines differently.
Medicines can reduce or provide temporary relief of chronic pain. At first, you may be given medicines that cause the fewest side effects. Then, if needed, the dose will slowly be increased, or you will be switched to a different medicine.
In general, avoid drinking alcohol while taking pain medicines. And do not take higher doses of any medicine than your doctor prescribed.
Daily medicines can be an effective part of long-term treatment for chronic pain. But sometimes a medicine loses some or all of its effectiveness when it is used daily over a long period of time, because your body develops a tolerance to it.
If you take opiate pain relievers for longer than a week or so, they can cause your body to keep expecting the medicine. This is called drug dependency. Over time, you may need more of the drug to get the same effects. This is called tolerance. This is not the same as addiction.
You may become physically dependent on opiate pain relievers if you take them regularly. Physical dependence is not addiction, but it is a gradual change in your body in response to the opiates. If you stop taking opiate pain relievers abruptly, you may develop nausea, sweating, chills, diarrhea, and shaking. The physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms are not life-threatening. You can avoid withdrawal symptoms if you gradually stop taking the opiates over a set period of time, as prescribed by your doctor.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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