Medication management is an important component in controlling chronic pain. For someone who is new to the idea of pain medications, the amount of options available can be bewildering. Most patients assume there are two types of pain medications: over the counter pain medications and narcotics. In fact, this is not true at all, and the likelihood of finding a medication combination to control your symptoms is not only possible, it is likely.
Pain management is a medical specialty unto itself, and it focuses primarily on finding which medications in which combinations work to control chronic pain. At SoCal Pain Center, we have on staff a doctor who specializes in pain management, and she knows all of the particulars of pain medications that are available. It may take some time to find the right combination, but if you are willing to work with us, we will help you find the correct cocktail of drugs that will make you feel yourself again.
Pain Management Physicians
Pain management physicians undergo a great deal of schooling to know how to treat chronic pain. It starts with a four year undergraduate degree from a college or university, usually focusing on the sciences, such as biology or chemistry. From there, the student pursues another four years of medical school, and at the end of this schooling, they choose a specialty. For those who wish to become pain management specialists, anesthesiology, orthopedics, or neurology are often considered.
Once a specialty is chosen, they begin practice in a residency that takes several years. Once the residency is over, the doctor can choose to become board certified in pain management by completing a fellowship in the subspecialty. Some pain management physicians choose to focus on different types of pain, such as fibromyalgia, back pain, or some other condition. When looking for a doctor, it is important to know where they were schooled, that they are board certified, and what conditions they specialize in.
Types of Pain Medication
The most basic type of pain medication is the over the counter drugs, but they are not the only medications. Tylenol, Advil, and aspirin are often used for mild pain, and they have fewer side effects than other medications. Advil is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, or NSAID, but it is not the only NSAID available to physicians. Prescription NSAIDs, such as Celebrex, are far more powerful, and they can help with conditions, such as arthritis and disc herniation, that primarily deal with swelling.
Other medications that have been used for unrelated conditions are also used in pain management. For instance, antidepressants, such as Cymbalta, have shown promise in
relieving chronic pain, particularly pain that is nerve related. Anti-seizure medications, such as gabapentin, are also important in the management of chronic nerve pain.
Narcotics are the final stop in pain medication management, and they are often used in conjunction with the other medications to provide the best relief. In fact, preparations, such as Lortab and Norco, are actually combinations of narcotics and acetaminophen, or Tylenol. The two work together to provide pain relief. Narcotics are often used as a last resort because of their side effects and the slight risk of dependence. However, when they are taken as prescribed, they can provide relief with minimal risk.
Managing Medications and Pain
Medication management for chronic pain focuses on a few different aspects. First, medications are used in an order called the medication ladder. This starts off with the least powerful medications, such as NSAIDs, and then works up to the strong ones, such as narcotics. It also allows for the mixing and matching of medications to find the solution that works for you. It may take time to move up the ladder and find the best combination, but with openness and patience, you should be able to find a way to control your pain.
Another important consideration is the route by which the medications are delivered. Recent advancements have produced pain patches that infuse medication through the skin, injections that bring pain medication directly to the site, and long acting medications that can keep pain at bay for hours. A pain management doctor is familiar with all of these methods of reducing pain, and they can help you find the product that will work for you. It is important to keep an open channel of communication when managing medication so that your doctor can make the necessary adjustments.
At SoCal Pain Center, we can help you find the correct medications for your condition. Our pain management doctor is board certified in pain management and has been practicing in southern California for a number of years. If you need medication management to control your pain, contact us today for a consultation and allow her to find the medication regimen that is right for you.