Pain Medicine: How to Use It Effectively

Originally posted on September 23, 2022 @ 7:54 pm

Pain medicine, whether over-the-counter or prescription strength, can assist you in controlling chronic pain and other types of discomfort. They should be used carefully because they are potent medications. It is best to start with the safest medications at the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time. If you need to, you can work your way up from there.

Observe any potential adverse effects and interactions with any other medications and dietary supplements you may be taking. And always follow the directions on the package or in the prescription from your doctor.

What is Pain Medicine?

An area of medicine and health care called pain medicine focuses on treating pain in all of its manifestations, from acute and easy to chronic and difficult.

Over-The-Counter OTC Pain Medicine

These are some examples of over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Medications known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as

  • Ibuprofen,
  • Naproxen, and
  • Diclofenac gel

Acetaminophen and NSAIDs both lower fevers and ease discomfort from aches and stiffness in the muscles, but only NSAIDs can additionally do so through reducing inflammation (swelling, heat, redness related to an injury, and irritation). Additionally, the effects of acetaminophen and NSAIDs vary. Prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds that induce inflammation and pain, are less produced when an individual takes NSAIDs, which reduces pain. The areas of the brain that process “pain messages” are affected by acetaminophen. Additionally, NSAIDs are offered in prescription strength, which your doctor can order for you.

pain medicine
pain medicine

Regular use of NSAIDs, particularly at high dosages, raises the risk of heart attacks and strokes and increases the possibility of bleeding and stomach ulcers. Additionally, they could damage the kidneys. A liver issue can be brought on by using acetaminophen often and in large doses. A medical emergency occurs when you take too much at once, whether it was on purpose or by accident.

A doctor’s prescription is not required to purchase topical painkillers. These items consist of creams, lotions, or sprays that are applied to the skin in order to ease arthritis and sore muscle pain. Aspercreme, BenGay, capsaicin cream, diclofenac gel, and Icy Hot are a few examples of topical painkillers.

Prescription of Pain Medicine

Included among the prescription pain relievers are:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Opioids
  • Antidepressants
  • Anticonvulsants (anti-seizure medications)
  • NSAIDs
  • Lidocaine patches

What Are Corticosteroids?

By reducing swelling, redness, stinging, and allergic reactions, prescription corticosteroids soothe inflamed parts of the body. Arthritis, asthma, and allergies can all be treated with corticosteroids. They are typically administered as pills or injections that are specifically directed at a particular joint when used to control pain. Prednisolone, methylprednisolone, and prednisone are a few examples.

Some of the worst side effects of prescription corticosteroids, which are very strong drugs, are:

  • Retention of salt and weight gain
  • stomach ulcers stomach ulcers
  • Feelings shift
  • inability to sleep.
  • immune system impairment.
  • Bones and skin that have lost density
  • Having a lot of sugar

The lowest dose of corticosteroids is recommended for as little time as necessary to alleviate the pain in order to reduce these potential side effects. One way to reduce these side effects is to give the steroid directly to the area of concern through an IV.

What is Opioids?

Natural, synthetic, or semi-synthetic opiates are the ingredients in narcotic painkillers known as opioids. Acute pain, such as the discomfort that follows surgery, is frequently treated with opioids.

An illustration of an opioid is:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone-acetaminophen
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxycodone-acetaminophen

Contrary to some other forms of painkillers, opioids are helpful for treating severe pain and do not result in stomach or other types of body bleeding. Doctors will search for alternatives to administering them because they can be highly addictive. If opioids are taken to manage pain for only a short time, it’s uncommon for people to develop an addiction to them. The risk of becoming addicted is real, and it could be bad if the drug is used to treat long-term pain.

Opioids may have the following negative effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • I vomit and feel sick.
  • Constipation
  • Itching
  • difficulty breathing
  • Addiction

What is Antidepressants?

By altering the concentrations of neurotransmitters, or the brain’s natural chemicals, antidepressants are medications that can treat emotional and physical disorders. These drugs can make the body’s signals for relaxation and well-being more readily available, enabling pain control for some patients with chronic pain disorders that don’t fully respond to conventional treatments. Research seems to show that tricyclic antidepressants are the best way to treat nerve or neuropathic pain.

Some types of headaches (including migraines) and menstrual pain are chronic pain problems that are managed by low-dose antidepressants. From the following list of antidepressants:

pain medicine
pain medicine
  • SSRIs, including paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), and sertraline, selectively block the reuptake of serotonin from the brain (Zoloft).
  • Amitriptyline, imipramine, desipramine, doxepin, nortriptyline, and norpramin are examples of tricyclic antidepressants (Pamelor).
  • SNRIs, such as duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine, prevent the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine (Effexor).

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For these medications to be effective, the body must accumulate a consistent amount of the drug over time. When compared to the amounts required to cure depression, pain frequently requires fewer quantities

In general, the adverse effects of SSRIs and SNRIs are less severe than those of tricyclic antidepressants. Antidepressant side effects are most frequently experienced as follows:

  • Unfocused vision
  • Constipation
  • urinary difficulties
  • Oral aridity
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Negative sexual behavior

Definition of Anticonvulsants

The majority of the time, anticonvulsants are prescribed to treat seizure disorders. The treatment of pain is also accomplished by several of these drugs. Although it’s unknown exactly how these drugs work to decrease pain, it’s generally accepted that they lessen the impact of pain-sensing nerves. Pregabalin (Lyrica), pregabalin (gabapentin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), and topiramate are a few examples (Topamax).

Anticonvulsants are typically well tolerated by patients. Among the most frequent negative effects are:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea

Other Pain Medicine Include:

Using a lidocaine (Lidoderm) patch, a prescription drug, is another method for reducing localized discomfort.

In order to ease muscle tension and spasm, muscle relaxants function by depressing the central nervous system. This frequently results in drowsiness. For treating acute back pain and nerve pain flare-ups, they may be useful in the short term. Additionally, they can assist in treating fibromyalgia-related muscle pain at night.

pain medicine

Your doctor could suggest you see a pain management specialist if the standard therapies don’t work to reduce your pain. Physical therapy or other types of medicine may be used as additional therapies by doctors who specialize in pain management. They could also suggest TENS, a method that involves putting patches on the skin to send signals that could make pain less severe.

A small, somewhat pacemaker-like device is surgically implanted in the epidural space next to the section of the spine that is thought to be the source of the pain as part of the spinal cord stimulation (SCS) procedure. To assist in blocking and stifling pain signals being sent to your brain, it uses gentle electric pulses delivered through leads.

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