What is pain management?
Pain management involves a range of treatment options aimed at helping you overcome pain. The treatments may include medications, physical rehabilitation and psychological therapy, amongst others.
When should I consult a doctor for pain?
Most pain resolves within a few days to a couple of weeks. However, if you are concerned about your pain in any way you should consult your local doctor. If your pain persists longer, or there are factors that suggest it may do so, then you or your local doctor may decide that you should see a pain specialist.
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is pain which lasts for longer than three months and results in some interference in your life. Most pain we experience in life resolves within this time frame. However, sometimes it does not for various reasons, and this is when a pain centre can be helpful.
How do I describe my pain to my doctor?
Your doctor will ask you to describe your pain in your own words. However, it is helpful to tell the doctor the location of the pain, what sensations you experience, whether it is constant or intermittent, and what makes the pain better or worse. Your doctor may also ask you to fill in a questionnaire which helps you to describe and rate your pain further.
When should I take my pain medication?
This is a complicated question that you should discuss with your local doctor. Generally, however, for acute pain (less than three months), the best management is to keep active, get some treatment by a qualified professional such as a physiotherapist, avoid worrying or panicking about the pain, and take mild pain medications such as paracetamol or anti-inflamatory medications. Unless advised by a medical professional you should avoid taking stronger pain medications. When pain persists other medications may be prescribed by your local doctor or by a pain specialist.
Are Pain Medications Addictive?
This is also a complicated question and depends in part on what you mean by addiction. There are many medications that have to be stopped slowly when they are no longer needed because of potential side effects, but that is not necessarily addiction. This often happens with anti-depressant medications, for example, but we probably wouldn’t call that addiction. Similarly you may experience side effects if you miss a dose of a medication, but again that is not necessarily due to addiction.
Many people take strong pain medications like oxycontin or endone without developing an addiction problem. However, we may become concerned about the effect of a medication on you if the medication is not effectively treating your pain or improving your quality of life, and yet you are requiring higher doses or need to take the medication more frequently. There are other things as well that might result in us seeing the medication use as problematic, which is really what is meant by addiction.
What can I do to avoid worsening of pain?
The best way to overcome pain in the long term is to stay active and engaged in life. This needs to be balanced by how much an activity increases your pain. If you do too much you may suffer from flare-ups that make things worse, but if you do too little and try to avoid any pain then you may become weaker and deconditioned, and this could well result in more pain in the long term. Effective pain management is partly about finding this balance between quality of life and pain, and this is something in which we can provide considerable help.
If you wish to make an appointment to speak with our team about your chronic pain please call (02) 9517 1764 or click here to request an appointment online.