Medication is often the first treatment you and your doctor will turn to in treating pain. When pain becomes chronic and long-term, medication can still be effective but should become part of an overall management strategy that includes a combination of treatments.
Not all pain responds to medication alone and some medications can have side-effects and cause dependencies over time. Extended use of any medication requires careful monitoring and an holistic approach to consider what else you could be doing to minimise your pain.
While it might seem that there are many medications available for the treatment of pain, they are all derived from three main analgesic groups.
Paracetamol – this trusted medication is a go-to for many people with pain. It is important to note, however, that paracetamol can be dangerous if not taken as prescribed.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs – useful in treating acute pain over short periods of time, commonly used examples include ibuprofen, diclofenac and meloxicam. Prolonged usage can cause serious side-effects that potentially affect the stomach and gastrointestinal tract or kidneys, and aggravate asthma or cause blood clotting.
Opioids (Opiates or Narcotics) – highly effective short-term pain relief as opioids reduce pain signals travelling to the brain. This method of pain relief has the highest incidence of potentially damaging side-effects and addiction, and continuous use often results in loss of effect. Opioid usage requires careful monitoring by your doctor and should not be taken long-term. Examples include – codeine, morphine, tramadol, oxycodone (Endone, Oxycontin, Targin), fentanyl (Durogesic), buprenorphine (Temgesic, Norspan), and tapentadol (Palexia).
In some cases, medications used to treat other conditions, such as epilepsy and depression, can be effective – especially where nerve damage/pain is involved. For example:
- Anticonvulsants (anti-epilepsy drugs) e.g. pregabalin, gabapentin.
- Antidepressants eg amitriptyline (Endep), nortriptyline (Allegron), duloxetine (Cymbalta).
- Local anaesthetics e.g. lignocaine.
- Infrequently, opioids may be used for neuropathic pain treatment – although, must be closely monitored as mentioned above.
As a first step, most of us seek out medication to treat pain symptoms, however ongoing usage may be harmful, cause uncomfortable side effects, create dependencies or become ineffective.
QPain offers medication alternatives and complementary interventional procedures that can help. If you are suffering from chronic pain, make an appointment to discuss effective ongoing relief.
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“It’s vital to work with a physician who specialises in pain medicine to help identify the source of your pain and develop the best method of treatment.”
Dr Frank Thomas