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Chronic pain is frequent in Canada, yet there are few pain clinics with rather long waiting lists. There are also few physicians and professionals specializing in chronic pain treatment working outside these pain clinics. Thus, it is important for patients to have access to reliable resources on which they can relay to get their information.

Several types of chronic pain can be difficult to treat. Having a team of committed healthcare professionals trained in a variety of approaches to treat pain is important.

Some conditions, such as fibromyalgia and tension headaches, do not respond well to medication. Pain associated with these diseases is primarily managed by physical and behavioural strategies. In fact, medication is often more effective when combined with psychological and physical therapies.

This section focuses on medications that relieve pain.

Different Names for your Medicine.

Did you know that there are usually two different names for each medication? The generic name is the name of the medication’s active ingredient. The medication’s brand name has been given by the company that manufactures it.

If one or two companies manufacture the same medication, it may be available under different brand names or under the generic name. The active substance, consequently the generic name, is the same for all versions of the medication. For example, ibuprofen is the generic name for Advil and Motrin, which are its brand names.

Pain Relief Medications

Pain relieving medication refers to analgesics and painkillers. There are different types and strengths of analgesics. Some may be taken together while others must be taken separately. Several analgesics are available and are used according to pain type and pain intensity:

Non opioid medications, such as acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are used to treat light to moderate pain.

Opioids, such as codeine are used to treat light pain while oxycodone or morphine target acute pain.

There are also local or topical anesthetics, such as lidocaine and EMLA;

Other medications such as anticonvulsants and antidepressants may also help relieve pain.

A gradual and progressive approach is usually used when treating pain with medication.

Using Pain Relief Medication

There is a good way and a bad way to use pain relief medication. The most frequent mistake people make when using painkillers is to wait too long, or to not take them soon enough! Most people wait until the pain has become difficult to handle before taking their pain relief medication. However, it is much easier to prevent intense pain by taking the medication before it becomes overwhelming. By taking the medication when the pain level is low and on a regular basis prevents pain from becoming unbearable.

We should always take medication as directed on the packaging or as prescribed by a physician. Taking large quantities may result in harmful effects. However, if you take less than the recommended dosage, the medication may not be effective.

Pain relievers are much more efficient when they are used in conjunction with physical treatment and pain management strategies.

  • Persistent: pain that is continuous, ongoing.
  • Recurrent: frequent episodes of pain, such as headaches.

Unlike acute pain, chronic pain has no real use. It is a prolonged and abnormal response to an injury. Consider chronic pain as a malfunction in your body’s alarm system where it sends danger signals to your brain for no reason. Chronic pain may be related to diseases such as arthritis and cancer, or it may simply occur for unknown reasons (idiopathic pain). The difference from acute pain is that chronic pain serves no purpose other than reminding the person that their disease is ongoing and requires permanent care and treatment. It needs to be managed meticulously to improve body function. It is generally harder to treat than acute pain and requires a multimodal approach. This type of approach uses a combination of medications and physical therapy as well as psychotherapy. Chronic pain management teams specialize in interdisciplinary approaches (medication, nursing care, physiotherapy, psychology, etc.) to treat nociceptive or neuropathic chronic pain. There are two types of chronic pain: nociceptive pain and neuropathic pain.

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