Pain Home > Be Smart With Your Chronic Pain Meds
With chronic pain medications, it can be hard to keep everything organized. Is it even possible? Of course -- but you have to be smart about it. You'll need to know how to order, store, and dispose of your meds properly. Try to set up a system that works for you. Though it may take some trial and error, it will pay off in terms of safety and pain control.
First things first -- it's imperative that you have realistic goals for dealing with your chronic pain. If you're in a situation requiring long-term use of pain medications, your aim should be to control and manage your pain. You shouldn't have to live with disabling pain each day, but it's also unreasonable to expect to live a completely pain-free existence. It's extremely difficult to completely eliminate pain safely.
Ideally, good pain control will let you live your life. It will reduce extreme pain to a "livable" level while not causing too much of that sedating "fog" that so many pain medications can cause.
The tried-and-true method of controlling pain with a long-acting, around-the-clock medication plus a short-acting one for "breakthrough" episodes of severe pain is popular for a reason. It works! Or rather, it works (and is safe) if you and your doctor find the right drugs and the right dosages for your unique situation. You might have to try several different medications at different dosages to find a combination that is right for you, and your needs may change over time as your pain worsens or improves.
How do you know if your long-acting pain medication is right for you? Can you live with the side effects you are experiencing? For instance, are you able to function, or are you too "foggy"? If so, your long-acting pain medication may be too strong.
Are you taking your short-acting pain medication for breakthrough pain several times each day? If so, your long-acting pain medication may be too weak. In either situation, your doctor might try to change the type or dosage of long-acting medication to achieve a better baseline level of pain control.
Trying to safely and adequately control pain with just one type of pain medication (whether a long-acting one or a short-acting one) might sometimes work, but a combination of the two usually works best.
And, of course, never "monkey around" with your dosages or deviate from your doctor's instructions on your own. It's too easy to accidentally take too much.