Managing your chronic pain day in and day out can be exhausting. The near-constant doctors’ appointments, switching up of medication to hopefully find one that works, and the actual pain itself can take a serious toll on you. While there is no panacea that will completely take away your chronic pain, there are ways to cope with it to make it far more manageable.
Seek Out a Specialist With Experience
The first step to managing your chronic pain is finding the source of that pain through an experienced specialist. If you go to a regular family practitioner, they are most likely not going to be able to diagnose whether your pain is neuropathic or caused by a different issue. Bouncing around from doctor to doctor in the hopes that one of them will have the answer is not only frustrating but extremely expensive.
One way to avoid the wild goose chase that diagnosing the source of your pain can become is to go to a pain center with experience in caring for those with chronic pain. Interventional pain management specialists have the expertise to quickly figure out exactly what is causing your pain, then developing a treatment strategy to get you feeling better quickly. Pain centers generally offer physical therapy as well as behavioral and medication management to try and tackle the problem from as many different angles as possible.
If you’re experiencing persistent pain and don’t know the cause, seeing a doctor as soon as possible is is worth the trip. Once the source of the pain is diagnosed, you might find that there are minimally invasive surgical options that can quickly relieve your pain, but you’ll never know unless you schedule an appointment. With specialists helping you to manage your chronic pain, you will be able to get back to regular activities sooner without risking further damage.
Understanding Your Medication
While successfully coping with chronic pain requires that you take charge and be proactive about the management process, you will still most likely require medication. Managing your stress, staying positive, using constructive language when discussing your pain, and maintaining engagement in activities is often not enough to offset the actual pain that you feel, they can help when paired with the right medication. However, the medications used to treat chronic pain can be confusing and dangerous, so educating yourself and understanding them to the best of your ability is key.
The different medications used in treating chronic pain each have their strengths and weaknesses. Four of the most common are Celebrex, Tylox, Neurontin, and Elavil. Celebrex works by inhibiting the production of the COX-2 enzyme and is traditionally used for pain related to arthritis. Tylox is an opioid painkiller combined with acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. It can be addictive due to the presence of opiates and cause liver damage due to the acetaminophen. Neurontin is usually used as an anticonvulsant for patients that suffer seizures, but it is effective in treating chronic lower back pain. Elavil is actually an antidepressant but has been shown to ease physical discomfort by altering the body’s chemistry.
A major issue facing people suffering from chronic pain that use medication to manage it is prescription quantity limits. Insurance companies often limit the amount of medication that can be prescribed at a time, especially when dealing with opioids. While this is done to curb abuse, making regular trips to your doctor in order to get a refill on your prescription, often weekly with opioids, can be a serious hassle when dealing with chronic pain. Getting around this can be difficult, but you can always ask your doctor to prescribe you a 60-day supply instead of a 30-day supply, or see if your insurance company will work with you.
Be Careful With Opioids
One of the most effective pain-killing methods in use today is opiate-derived medication. Unfortunately, opioids are highly addictive, and they’ve recently become a massive issue in the United States. While dealing with chronic pain can feel unmanageable, piling an addiction to prescription drugs on top of it is a recipe for disaster.
Treating opioid addiction in the United States has become a top priority for many states due to the fact that an increasing number of patients are overdosing on their prescribed medication. Opioids are widely prescribed for many different illnesses that result in severe pain, but this overprescription is doing far more harm than good. While you might find that opioids are really the only medication that works in treating your chronic pain, it is wise to exercise extreme caution when taking them.
Many of the people who suffer from opioid addiction don’t even realize that they might be falling into their addiction before it is far too late. Symptoms of opioid addiction and abuse include poor coordination, persistent drowsiness, slurred speech, mood swings, irritability, depression, and anxiety attacks. If you find yourself suffering from opioid addiction due to the treatment of your chronic pain, seek help and make the switch to a different, less risky medication.
Chronic pain is just a fact of life for many people. Even though you may feel totally helpless in the face of your chronic pain, know that there are people out there that can help you. Staying positive and finding the right plan to manage your pain is the key to success. Doing so will help you get back to living the life that you want.