Pain is helpful in diagnosing any problem. Without realizing or feeling pain, you may seriously hurt yourself without knowing about it, or you may not realize you have any medical problem. Once you start treatment or take care of the problem, pain usually goes away. However, sometimes pain goes on for a few weeks, months or even years. This situation of pain is called chronic pain. Sometimes this chronic pain is due to an ongoing cause like cancer or arthritis and sometimes the cause is unknown.
Fortunately, there are certain ways to treat arthritis pain relief or all kind of pain relief. The treatment process varies depending on the causes of pain.
Treatment options for chronic pain
There are certain options available for the treatment of chronic pain. Under the primary category of medications, there are both oral and topical therapies involved for the treatment of chronic pain. Oral medications are those medicines that can be taken through the mouth like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen, and opioids. There are also some medications available that can be applied to the skin either as an ointment or cream or by a patch that is applied to the surface of the skin. Few of these patches work by being placed directly on top of the painful/affected area where the active drug, such as lidocaine is released. And others patches such as fentanyl may be placed at a location far from that painful area. Some medications/drugs are available over-the-counter (OTC) while others require a prescription.
There are a number of things that may help with your pain that does not involve medications. These things may help to relieve pain and reduce the medications essential to control your pain. For example, exercises that are performed best under the direction of a physiotherapist. There are also some alternatives such as acupuncture. Transcutaneous Electro-Nerve Stimulator (TENS) units use pads that are placed on your skin surface to provide stimulation around the affected area of pain and may help to reduce some types of pain.
Finally, there are interventional techniques that involve injections into various levels of spinal region. These involve superficial injections into the painful muscles also called as trigger point injections or may involve more invasive procedures. There are multiple procedures that range from epidural injections for pain occurring in the neck and arm or the back and leg, facet injections into the joints allows movement of the neck and back to injections for burning pain of the arms or legs caused by a syndrome called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS).
Pain Relief Drugs with Side-Effects
There are many categories of pain relief medications that are used in the treatment of chronic pain. Your primary physician, patient management specialist, or pharmacist can describe the dosage and side effects from these medications. The most commonly used medications can be divided into the following broad categories:
1. Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs and Acetaminophen
There are several types of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) available, some of them (such as ibuprofen) can be obtained through over-the-counter. NSAIDs is very effective for acute muscular or bone pain as well as some types of chronic pain syndromes. When this medication is taken for an extended period of time, or in high quantities, they can have negative effects on the clotting of blood, kidneys, and gastrointestinal system. Bleeding ulcers is also a risk of these medications. Acetaminophen can be easily obtained over-the-counter, but, care should be taken to not take more than 4000 mg quantity in 24 hours; otherwise, several liver failures may occur. There are few opioid medications that combine acetaminophen with the medication. You should be aware because many over-the-counter medications have acetaminophen as one of their ingredients and when taken in combination with any prescribed medication, it may result in an overdose of acetaminophen.
Some of the older categories of antidepressants can be very helpful in controlling the chronic pain, specifically the tricyclic antidepressants. These medications are not meant to be taken on a need basis, but must be taken regularly whether or not you have pain. Your physician or doctor may attempt to lessen some of the side effects of this by having these medications at night. There are some other side effects also like dry mouth that can be treated with drinking lot of water. These medications/drugs may not be given to the patients with certain types of glaucoma. Moreover, these medications should never be taken in larger doses than those prescribed.
- Anticonvulsants (Antiseizure) Medications
Anticonvulsant medications can be very helpful for any pain in the nerves (like burning, shooting pain). They are also not meant to be taken on "as needed" basis. These medications should be taken every day whether you feel the pain or not. Some of them can have side effects like drowsiness that often improves with time. Some have the side effects of gaining weight. If you have kidney stones or glaucoma, make sure to tell your doctor because there are some anticonvulsants that are never recommended to be given under those conditions.
- Muscle Relaxants
These medications are most often used and help a lot in relieving muscle spasms. The most common side effect of this medications is drowsiness.
If used appropriately, opioids can be very effective in controlling certain types of chronic pain. They can be less effective or require higher doses in nerve type pain. For pain that stretches for a long time, a long-acting opioid is commonly recommended. One of the most frequent side effects of this medication is constipation, which if mild may be treated by drinking lots of water or fluids, but if severe, may require medications. Drowsiness is another side effect of this which often gets better as you get used to the medication.