Common Myths About Pain Medicines
Chronic pain is long-lasting pain due to a condition that can't be cured or easily treated. In many cases, the underlying cause of chronic pain cannot be clearly found. Being in pain can be exhausting. It can affect your ability to eat, sleep, or just do day-to-day tasks. Pain medicines can help relieve some of your pain and make daily life easier. They are likely to be part of your treatment for chronic pain. Below are some common myths about pain medicines.
Myth: Medicines will cure my pain.
Fact: Medicines can help control chronic pain, but they rarely cure it.
Myth: If my usual dose helps a little, a larger dose will help a lot.
Fact: Taking a larger dose of medicines may be dangerous, even fatal. If you feel that you need to increase your dose, talk to your healthcare provider first.
Myth: I shouldn't take medicines unless I'm in severe pain.
Fact: Preventing pain is easier than treating it once it has begun. You may even need less medicine. For best results, take pain medicines on schedule.
Myth: Taking pain pills means I'm weak.
Fact: Feeling pain is not a moral failing. It is a medical problem. Taking medicine can help you get more out of your other treatments and allow you to participate in more things.
Myth: I'll get addicted.
Fact: Addiction means severe changes in your behavior, and an impaired ability to control the behavior. Addiction to opioid pain medicines like morphine and oxycodone is fairly uncommon. Addiction to non-opioid pain medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen doesn't generally happen. Long-term use of opioid pain medicines may lead to increased tolerance (needing to take more for the same effect) or it may cause physical dependence. This means that to avoid withdrawal, you'll need to "taper off" if you and your healthcare provider decide to stop the medicines. Tolerance and dependence are normal responses to opioid pain medicines and are not the same as addiction.
May 15, 2017
Kroenke, K. Pharmacotherapy of chronic pain: a synthesis of recommendations from systematic reviews. General Hospital Psychiatry, 31, (2009), pp. 206-219., Overview of the Treatment of Chronic Pain. UpToDate
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