Medication for Pain
If you are experiencing pain, you may be advised to take medicines for pain by your doctor or pharmacist. Most people only need to take pain relief medicines for a few days or a few weeks at the most, but occasionally people need to take them for longer. It is important to use medicines for pain carefully, as they have side effects. Side effect information for a medicine can be found on the patient information leaflet inside the medicine box. In long term use, medicines for pain are often not very effective and not everyone will benefit from them. For more information about different types of pain click here. The website Livehere Well with Pain also has “footstep 9” that explores medicines for pain.
Some medicines are more commonly used long term, for pain. For example, gabapentin, pregabalin, duloxetine, amitriptyline, nortriptyline and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (such as ibuprofen, often termed NSAIDs). Useful leaflets on each of these medicines can be found here.
Many people find that there are other ways that pain can be managed and more information about options can be found here; Self Management » Joined Up Care Derbyshire. People often need to try a few options to find one that suits them. Your local GP practice will also be able to introduce you to a social prescriber and/or a health and well-being coach, who can help you explore some of these options.
Taking opioids for pain
Opioids, such as morphine and codeine, are medicines prescribed for pain relief. Whilst this group is very effective in managing short-term pain, such as after an operation, there is little evidence of significant benefit for pain that is chronic (lasting more than three months), that is not cancer-related.
There are also serious harms associated with opioids and the risk of dependency when taken long-term. For more information on opioids for pain click here.
For chronic or on-going pain, that is not cancer-related, many people find other methods that do not involve medicines more effective. More information on these methods can be found in our Self Management section.
For specific advice on your treatment, please speak to your Doctor or Pharmacist.
If you decide you would like to reduce or stop your opioid medicine, it is important to do this slowly to avoid withdrawal effects. Your healthcare professional will be able to help you create a plan that works for you.
Download the patient leaflet for more information on taking opioids for pain.
Here is a short video on stopping opioid medicines for those who are considering this or would like to be more aware of the effects of opioid medicines;
Here is a document that lists the side effects of opioids, for awareness, and is a good tool to discuss any side effects that you may be experiencing with your Doctor or Pharmacist at a medication review or appointment
Am I able to drive whilst taking medications prescribed for pain?
Yes, but only if your ability to drive is not impaired. Medications prescribed to help manage pain may cause side-effects such as dizziness or sleepiness and so may impair your driving.
It remains the responsibility of all drivers to decide whether they consider their driving is, or might be impaired on any given occasion. Do not drive if this is the case. Sometimes your doctor may advise you not to drive. If this is the case, even if you do not feel impaired, you must not drive as it is against the law to do so. Download the patient leaflet for more information.
Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will explain to you how to take your pain relief medications. A pain diary will help you and your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to decide whether the pain relief medications you take are suitable for you. You should fill out a pain diary every time you take your pain relief medication or at least twice a day. Download the pain diary below.