The painkillers that patients most often ask for and that doctors most often prescribe don't work that well for chronic pain, according to a study.
Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and narcotics like hydrocodone may be among drugs most often recommended for pain. But while they can be good choices for acute pain — discomfort that is intense and short-lived — they are ineffective at addressing aches that linger, according to a review of previous studies published in the Journal of the American Orthopaedic Surgeons.
When addressing chronic pain, doctors must explore options that may be unfamiliar yet are safer and more effective. Even an over-the-counter drug like ibuprofen, sold under such brand names as Motrin and Advil, can cause heart problems and other side effects when used daily for prolonged periods.
Coupled with the fact that it might not be the most effective medication, it probably doesn't make sense to regularly take Motrin and Advil for pain.
Doctors are just like the rest of us in many respects. They often go with what they know. But in the case of chronic pain, doctors need to move beyond their comfort zones to get good results for their patients. These include exploring medications that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for one use, but also effective for another — so-called "off-label" prescribing.
Each patient is different. The key to finding the right remedy is through thoughtful experimentation with individual patients and techniques that have been shown to work.
The study was done for an orthopedists' publication. But the change in perspective about painkiller prescriptions is important for other specialists and primary care physicians, too.
There are a lot of patients with chronic pain that were not being helped, and that were not surgical candidates. It has become clear; overall awareness is needed that these other options are out there, to try to help these people. Additionally these are better options than just writing (prescriptions for) narcotics.
For more information on the non-narcotic treatment of chronic pain, contact Franklin Pain and Wellness Center.