How to use painkillers effectively

by | Medicines, Pain, Videos

Pain is one of the commonest symptoms you can get. We all suffer pain from time-to-time, I’m suffering some pain just now, ’cause I’ve just been for a run, so I’ve got a few aches and pains. I try not to think about it too much, but we all get pain from time-to-time, you’d be surprised at how many people are just walking around with pain.

The question is, what do you do about it?

Treatment for severe short-term pain

Now, if it’s acute pain, broken an arm, broken a leg, it’s post-surgical, then there are medications that you take in hospital for that. Now you might’ve heard of opioids, narcotic-like drugs, like Endone and drugs like that, which cause problems, and have certainly caused problems in the United States. Those drugs are okay in acute pain, but for very short periods of time, and for very severe pain.

Treatment for mild short-term pain

But if you’ve got mild acute pain, like a headache or so on, those opiates don’t make any difference. It’s been shown in studies that if you take something like Panadeine Forte, which has got codeine in it, it in fact is no more effective than taking a combination of Paracetamol and Ibuprofen, and there are a couple of those on the market, and that’s assuming you’re allowed to take Ibuprofen. So simple drugs for your pain are best.

Treatment for chronic pain

When the pain is lasting a long time and you’ve got chronic pain, opioids are a really bad thing to take, because they don’t help. What helps when you’ve got chronic pain that’s been going on a long time is rehabilitation, it’s talking to psychologists, not because you’re nuts, or you’ve got some psychological problem, but it’s actually readjusting your thinking and how you’re responding to the pain, and those sorts of things, relaxation therapy.

So the things that help your pain when it’s going on for a long, long period of time are not medicines. In fact, some pain centres, before they’ll treat you, they’ll take you off all your medications and teach those psychological exercise regimes that really do help the chronic pain. So, simple things first. Only use the opioids when it’s really acute, and for a very short space of time, and if your pain’s going on for a long period of time, opiates are the wrong thing to take.

Dr Norman Swan, Physician and Journalist