Chronic pain can lead to headaches, joint pain, muscle aches, burning pain in different parts of the body, low back pain, lack of concentration, and trouble sleeping. It usually lasts for weeks, months, and even years. Visiting a pain management center can help you design a customized strategy for chronic pain relief.
For managing pain, there’s a wide range of options available. Medical doctors can prescribe medications, physical therapies, or a combination of both. Medications include opioids, antidepressants, and anti-inflammatory drugs. However, you can apply some medications directly to the skin. Some patches can be applied to the painful region while others are placed at a location far from the region. You can work with your doctor to figure out what’s right for your condition.
Traditional Medications For Pain Management
NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs)
NSAIDs are commonly prescribed medications for pain management. About 30 million people in the United States use them for headaches, arthritis, and discomfort. NSAIDs are also effective in managing inflammation and lowering fever along with relieving pain.
These medications work by blocking certain enzymes, such as Cox-1 and Cox-2, which are involved in creating prostaglandins. So, NSAIDs can help in managing pain and inflammation by producing more prostaglandins.
Some common NSAIDs available over-the-counter are Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Ketoprofen, and Naproxen. However, there are some other NSAIDs available by prescription—Daypro, Indocin, Lodine, and Voltaren.
When taking NSAIDs for pain management, make sure you pay close attention to dosage. Daily dosage shouldn’t exceed 4000 mg, otherwise, you may experience severe health issues.
Opioids are effective in managing certain types of pain. Opioid medications work by interacting with the opioid receptors in the brain cells, thus reducing the perception of pain & boosting wellness. Some of the commonly prescribed opioids are—Oxycodone, Hydrocodone-Acetaminophen, Hydrocodone bitartrate, Hydrocodone-Homatropine, Pseudoephedrine-Hydrocodone, and Hydrocodone-Chlorpheniramine.
It’s important to note that opioids may interact with certain medications to deliver negative effects. So, you should do comprehensive research on Opioid interaction with drugs you are taking. It’s good to talk to a licensed doctor before mixing different medications.
Antidepressants are effective in managing different types of pain. These include arthritis pain, fibromyalgia pain, low back pain, headaches, nerve damage from diabetes, and shingles.
Of the many groups of antidepressants for pain relief, tricyclics is the most effective one. It includes—Amitriptyline, Nortriptyline, Protriptyline, Doxepin, and Desipramine.
According to Mayo Clinic, antidepressants may increase the neurotransmitters in the spinal cord, thus relieving pain. However, they don’t deliver immediate effects, you may have to wait for several weeks. Your physician can help you with the right dose to get the desired effects. Additionally, they will work to manage side-effects such as sedation, by suggesting you take medications at night.
Anti-seizure medications are effective in relieving nerve pain. They work by managing the pain signals associated with damaged nerves. There are various causes of nerve damage, such as chemotherapy, shingles, diabetes, etc.
Common anti-seizure medications for pain management are—Gabapentin, Carbamazepine, Pregabalin, Tiagabine, Topiramate, and Valproic Acid. Carbamazepine is usually prescribed for trigeminal neuralgia. It’s a medical condition that can lead to electric shock-like pain.
However, it’s necessary to take these medications whether you experience pain or not. Some anti-seizure medications may lead to side-effects such as drowsiness and weight gain.
Addiction & Tolerance Issues Related to Opioids
Opioids can help in relieving pain, but they can lead to certain side-effects. Many report risks of opioid addiction. It involves cravings for the drugs despite knowing that they may cause harm to health.
Opioids influence the brain’s reward system, thus delivering positive effects. They work by accelerating the release of endorphins, chemicals in the body involved in happiness and pleasure. So, endorphins reduce the perception of pain and boost mood. However, when opioid doses are reduced, you want to get those feel-good sensations back. This can result in opioid addiction.
However, long-term opioids use can result in building tolerance for drugs. Over time, the effectiveness of the drugs with the same dose reduces. So, you need larger amounts to experience the same effects.
To reduce opioid addiction or tolerance risks, make sure you take the medications as prescribed by a licensed doctor. If you aren’t getting any pain-relieving effects from opioids, stop using it, and seek professional help at a reputable pain management center.
Nerve Block Procedures For Pain Management
Sometimes, a group of nerves can cause pain in some specific regions of the body. Nerve block procedures can help in managing this type of pain. Here are some of the common nerve block methods-
Epidural Steroid Injection
It’s effective for managing pain in the back, legs, neck, and arms. It’s applied to the epidural space near the affected region. Epidural steroid injections can lead to a temporary numbness (that usually lasts for 8 hours).
Lumbar Sympathetic Block
It’s used for managing leg pain caused by CRPS I. The injection is placed near the lumbar sympathetic chain for reducing pain. It’s usually performed under fluoroscopic guidance. Some patients may experience sharp pain down the leg. Consult with a physician if you experience the same.
Facet Joint Injection
It helps in relieving neck and back pain. The injection is performed under x-ray guidance.
Common side-effects associated with this treatment involves—soreness in the region where the needle is inserted.
So, nerve blocks can help in managing pain, but they may lead to certain risks. These include itching, increased blood sugar levels, weight gain, increased energy, soreness, and bleeding. So, make sure you diagnose your condition and proceed with pain management treatments carefully.
When to See a Doctor?
Since everyone has a different condition, they require a customized treatment plan. If by using the above-mentioned treatments, you are unable to reduce pain or experience some unpleasant side-effects, consider visiting a reputed pain management center.
However, you can talk to our doctors online to seek medical advice remotely. The process is very simple-
- Sign up an account
- See a licensed doctor through HIPAA-compliant platform
- Receive your prescription letter in PDF format via email
Natural Methods to Help Ease Pain
Since pain medications can cause certain side-effects, you can try some natural methods to promote wellness. Willow bark, turmeric, cloves, and acupuncture are some of the top natural painkillers. However, you also use heat and ice to get pain relief.
Additionally, there are several physical exercises that can help you alleviate pain. These include walking, swimming, stretching, and yoga. To learn more, you can check our previous post on exercises for chronic pain management.
For managing chronic pain, there’s a wide range of treatments available. Medical doctors usually prescribe antidepressants, opioid medications, anti-seizure medications, and NSAIDs for pain management. Different medications work differently and have different side-effects. For instance, opioids work by increasing the endorphins, thus relieving pain and boosting mood. However, it can lead to opioid addiction or tolerance risks.
So, before you try any pain medication, make sure you do comprehensive research on how it works and is it appropriate for your condition.
Visit a pain management center to design a perfect treatment plan.