Chronic pain can be debilitating, resulting in significant loss of function and ability to enjoy life. Although everyone experiences pain from time to time, chronic pain is a persistent condition that’s much worse than everyday pain. It’s estimated that about 20% of American adults suffer from chronic pain.
What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is pain that persists, either intermittently or steadily, for 12 weeks or longer. A number of medical conditions can cause chronic pain, such as cancer, arthritis, and nerve damage. In some cases, the cause of chronic pain isn’t known and may result from an undiagnosed illness or condition.
Here at Vulcan Pain Management, with offices in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. Victor Mendoza is a highly skilled, board-certified pain management specialist. Dr. Mendoza takes the time to talk with you about your symptoms, and he finds treatment solutions that address those symptoms and allow you to get your pain under control.
Treating chronic pain
The treatments for chronic pain vary depending on where the source of your pain is located. But treatment might include:
- Over-the-counter and prescription medications
- A medical procedure such as electrical stimulation or surgery
- Alternative treatments such as acupuncture and herbal supplements
- Physical therapy, occupational therapy, or psychotherapy
- Lifestyle activities such as meditation, yoga, and massage
Most people with chronic pain employ a combination of these treatments to address their pain. Dr. Mendoza helps you find the right combination for your specific needs.
Tips to avoid prescription drug addiction
Prescription pain medications are strong and effective but can have significant side effects, including nausea, drowsiness, and depression. And they can be addictive. Up to 12% of people who take medication for chronic pain become dependent or addicted. Here are a few tips for how to avoid developing an addiction to prescription drugs for your chronic pain.
Take the correct dose
Your doctor prescribes a medication dosage that’s carefully tailored to your needs and symptoms. If you have questions about the correct dose, ask your pharmacist or doctor for clarification. Take the medication exactly as prescribed, for exactly as long as prescribed.
Take it at the right time
You doctor also gives you instructions for when to take the medication. Follow these instructions carefully. If necessary, keep a record of the amount of medication taken and when, to make sure you don’t take too much or too little.
Don’t skip doses
If you’re worried about becoming addicted to your medication, you may be tempted to skip a dose when you feel a little better, thinking this might help. However, you may then want to take extra medication when the pain comes back. Don’t alter your doses; it can cause you to develop a dependence, which can lead to addiction.
Talk to your doctor
If the medicine isn’t working or you have changes or problems, call your doctor immediately. Don’t attempt to change your dosage yourself. Your doctor can examine you and determine if you need a different medication or dose or if you’re showing signs that you need to be weaned off your medication.
If you’re suffering from chronic pain, you likely need treatment to help you cope with the pain and do the things you need to do. If you take prescription medication for your pain, it’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions to avoid possible drug addiction.
To make an appointment at Vulcan Pain Management, call our office or use our convenient online booking tool today.