Pain is a part of life. Whether it’s the occasional headache or chronic pain, we all experience it at some point. And while there are various ways to treat pain, pain medication is often the go-to solution. But when is it appropriate to use pain medication? And when should you avoid it? Read on to find out.
Dr Brian Blick suggests that pain medication should be used when the pain is severe and impairing your ability to function. He also cautions against using pain medication for minor discomfort or using it as a crutch to avoid addressing the root cause of your pain.
Types of pain medication
There are two main types of pain medication: over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription. OTC options include ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol). Prescription options are Stronger and include opioids such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, and fentanyl. These medications work by interrupting pain signals from going to the brain or changing how the brain perceives pain.
Opioids are generally only recommended for short-term use—usually less than two weeks— due to the risk of addiction and other side effects. In addition, these medications should only be used if other options have been tried and failed. If you do take opioids, be sure to take them as prescribed, and do not increase the dosage without talking to your doctor first.
Some people may also experience side effects from pain medication, such as constipation, drowsiness, or nausea. If you experience any of these side effects, talk to your doctor about how to alleviate them or whether another type of medication may be a better option for you.
How long you’ll need to take pain medication?
It will depend on the severity and cause of your pain. For example, if you have acute pain from an injury, you may only need to take pain medication for a week or two. However, if you have chronic pain from a condition like arthritis, you may need to take it for months or even years.
No matter what type of pain you’re experiencing, there are a variety of treatment options available. If you’re not sure whether or not pain medication is right for you, talk to your doctor. They can help you determine the best course of treatment based on the severity of your pain and your medical history.
How to check if your pain medication is working
If you’re taking pain medication, it’s important to monitor how well it’s working. The goal is to find the lowest dose that provides relief from your pain. To do this, keep track of your pain levels on a scale of 1 to 10 before and after taking the medication. If your pain decreases by at least two points after taking the medication, it’s considered effective. If not, you may need to adjust the dosage or try a different type of medication.
Whenever possible, it’s best to avoid using medication to treat pain. Something as simple as ice or heat therapy, massage, or acupuncture can often be just as effective with fewer risks. However, there are times when pain medication is necessary. If you need to take pain medication, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and only take it for as long as necessary. With caution and care, pain medication can be an effective way to treat pain—just be sure not to overuse it.