Evaluating Your Pain Medication – Is it Working?

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By Dr. Sender Deutsch
Published on February 3, 2013
Evaluating Your Pain Medication

You can help your pain medication be more effective.

Pain is multifactorial. Pain medication alone will not conquer your pain. You must combine your pain medications with exercise, manual therapy, psychotherapy and other modalities to have a positive outcome. Please remember that pain medication often simply treats the neural component; however, the tissues and movements have to be retrained at the same time. It is important to retrain and wire your brain on how to move without pain. If your pain medication is not working, then you must ask yourself and your team why. It can be from lack of integration and combining your pain medications with other modalities.

There is now a lot of research to indicate that chronic pain is associated with changes in the brain. This has been coined “central sensitization,” which is defined as hyper-activity within the brain from ongoing pain stimulation. Thus, it is imperative to treat pain immediately when it occurs, to prevent ongoing damage to not only the injured tissues, but the brain as well. Remember, it is the brain that controls all of our movements, thoughts, and actions.

Medication does not work alone

Often, when injuries are not treated properly from the onset, chronic pain develops and medication is prescribed to help treat the pain. However, medication does not work on its own to rehabilitate chronic pain; it must be integrated with exercise, manual therapy, psychosocial therapy and orthopedic products.

Your team of specialists should include a doctor who specializes in pain medicine to oversee your medication. There are many different pharmacological agents from anti-inflammatories, anti-depressants, opioids, steroids and or spinal injections. Finding the right combination that is suited to your injury and body is important to accomplish early on. As evidence suggests, the longer pain exists, the harder it is to treat, and increased incidence of pain medications become ineffective or require taking a higher dosage.

Follow these steps to help prevent your pain medications from becoming ineffective:

  1. Get treated immediately by professionals.
  2. Utilize an integrated team approach consisting of a pain medicine specialist, physiotherapist, chiropractor, exercise specialist and psychologist.
  3. Don’t stop moving, and retrain your brain to move in pain free ranges of motion.
  4. Think positively about your rehabilitation process.
  5. Be proactive, and if something isn’t working, hurts, or is not making you feel good, then stop and be an advocate for your health.
  6. Follow through with your prescribed medications and take them as prescribed by your physician and outlined by the pharmacist.
  7. If your medications are not helping after a couple of weeks then get reevaluated by your physician.
  8. Meditate to eliminate stress and improve your body’s ability to respond to the medication.
  9. Sleep 7 to 8 hours per night to increase your immunity and promote recovery of tissues.
  10. Enjoy life, your family and friends – have a strong support system!