Medication Journey for Chronic Pain
Starting from the beginning of your journey and moving towards more advanced treatments as your symptoms continue and treatments do not help achieve appropriate relief.
This over-the-counter option is quick and easy to get. It’s prescribed to alleviate low level pain and inflammation. It will be important to ask your doctor how much you’ll be allowed to safely take. As with most pain alleviating medications, Acetaminophen can cause liver damage when taken in excess. Do not take more than 4 grams (4,000 milligrams) per day.
A nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug, commonly called a NSAID, is just like Acetaminophen in that it can be purchased over-the-counter. It is also used for pain but the difference between the two is that NSAIDs, like Ibuprofen, are better at alleviating swelling, inflammation, fever, and pain levels. NSAIDs may cause issues with stomach bleeding.
Prescription Pain Medication
The next level of pain management is with a prescription-based pain medication. The most common pain prescriptions are narcotics and opioids. Due to their addictive nature, prescription pain management should be discussed with your doctor.
This numbing agent can be used on skin or injected directly into a muscle or nerve. This is the same type of injection that you get at a dentist’s office when having a tooth pulled or a filling placed.
This is a medication that is typically used to treat seizure disorders; however, anticonvulsants may also be beneficial in reducing pain, relieving anxiety, and alleviating tension.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
Placed underneath the skin, a safe and secure device sends electrical signals through the spinal cord to cancel out pain signals.
Minimally Invasive Procedure
Two common minimally-invasive and proven treatment options include radiofrequency ablation therapy and spinal cord nerve stimulation treatment. A device may be implanted in the body that releases a pain alleviating medication on a consistent schedule or when needed. Less invasive than spinal surgery, spinal cord nerve stimulation is the only therapy listed so far that provides long-term pain relief.
The final tier of pain medication involves invasive surgery – this could be a spinal fusion. These procedures are looking to cure the pain, however, many times, patients do not find the desired relief and end up in the operating room again months later.