I have often heard patients tell me that their pain medication is not working because they still have pain. My answer is always the same. Contrary to what the TV ads would like you to believe, there is no medication that will completely take your pain away. The most you can expect from a pain medication is that it will decrease the sharp, horrible pain and make is less severe. It is also not designed to be the only method of relief used. A combination of exercise, injections, mediation, ice, heat and use of topical medications are just a few of the other things that you can do to reduce pain as well. Unfortunately there is no magic golden pill that will take all of your pain away.
The thing is some pain is actually a good thing. It is the body’s way of alerting you that something is wrong. Imagine what would happen if you were fixing something on the stove and you put your hand on the burner. If you did not feel the pain which alerted you to remove your hand, you would just leave it there and sustain a very serious burn injury. Another example would be stomach pain alerting you that your appendix needs to come out. So when you say that you don’t want any pain in your life, you actually do.
Now back to the medication. No, it is not likely to remove your pain completely. It will decrease the pain and make it more manageable. The goal of the medication is to decrease the pain so it allows increased function within your life. That golf game that you have been avoiding because of back pain, you can now enjoy again. It might still be painful but not the severe limiting pain that it would be without the medication. You had the arthritis in your back when you took the medication, you will have the arthritis in your back after taking it.
Having the right expectation of what the medication can do will make for a much better and positive outcome if medication management becomes part of your plan of care. Medication can be a great tool toward improving function and allowing people to do the things that they like to do. If you have any questions about your medications don’t hesitate to give us a call or talk to your provider.