Did you know that 70% of the population won’t be taking over the counter or prescription medicines correctly?
Every day I see clients who have been to see their GP with various pain issues. Usually they have been prescribed anti-inflammatories; such as Ibuprofen, paracetamol or codeine phosphate. Despite being informed on a set dosage and course they are, in the majority, not following this advice. The usual comment I hear is that they “don’t like taking pills” or they “don’t want to mask the pain in case they make things worse” or they “do not want to become reliant on pills”. If people have collected the prescribed drugs they often only take some or one of the drugs issued. It is at this point I ask if the medicines are helping? Most say “No” and they only take a tablet when they feel their pain is bad enough.
And therein lies the problem. If you only take the medicines now and then or just one and not the other, you are usually wasting your time.
Taking anti-inflammatory medicines for a short time after injury or surgery you will help minimize the bodies initial response to damage. You might also have been told to take paracetamol to reduce the pain while on anti inflamatories as these two medicines are not only safe together but work well at helping optimize healing and keep you comfortable in the acute stages of pain. If you see your GP you might also come away with a prescription for codeine-based drugs if your GP thinks your pain warrants something stronger, this is because the different drugs work in different ways, one to help inflammation, one for pain and paracetamol works with both these medicines to help them be more effective. If you suffer with any inflammation, such as a sprained ankle, you may be given anti inflamatories and paracetamol, a problem caused by non-inflammatory conditions usually get treated with codeine phosphate and paracetamol
Medications such as Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Diclofenac and Naproxen are all anti inflamatories and they are a class of drugs known as NSAID’s. This is especially important if you have suffered an acute injury. When you suffer injury the damaged tissues bleed and swell to start the repair process, but sometimes the swelling is excessive and causes pain.
NSAID’s work by altering how our body responds to the inflammation, resultant swelling and the pain these cause. In order to work well you must take the right dose for the drug to build up a level in your body so that it can start to have an effect on the chemical processes that cause swelling and pain. Most over the counter anti-inflammatories are fairly short lasting so you must take them every few hours before the drug begins to wear off. If you take less than prescribed you are not going to see a benefit because the levels in your body have dropped too low. These drugs often help if you have a pain caused by inflammation, such as after an acute muscle/ligament injury or surgery.
You may be given another drug such as Codeine or Dihydrocodeine to take with the anti-inflammatories or as your main medicine if you don’t have an inflammatory problem. These are weak forms of Morphine and they work by blocking the signals up to the brain and in the spinal cord.
Paracetamol is another medication you have probably used at some time. It is for controlling fever and pain and is often given along with the other classes of drugs above. Like many anti-inflamatories it only lasts for a short time in the body and can be taken every few hours.
In all these cases there are other forms of the same drug that has been designed to stay in your body for longer so needs to be taken less frequently. Your medicines will always come with a How to take/dosage label, so follow what has been prescribed for you. Remember to take them regularly. Someone else might have the same medicine but be on a different dosage but do not take more than the maximum dosage prescribed for you. Taking less may make your tablets ineffectual but taking more can be very dangerous! Only stop taking them if you have any adverse reactions. The best thing is to always read the leaflet that comes with the medicines, so you know what to look out for.
Remember for some people with medical conditions such as liver, asthma, heart issue or kidney disease even over the counter medicines you can buy at the supermarket are dangerous to take. If you have any medical conditions or take any medicines from your GP purchase your medicines at the pharmacy counter so you can speak to the pharmacist about what you can and cannot take safely.
So how should you use pain medication safely and effectively?
1. Take the medicines as prescribed by GP or the pharmacist. If using over the counter medicines read the dosage label and only take the number of pills as often as advised.
2. Do not take more than the maximum dosage on the label.
3. If your pain last longer than 3 days speak to your Physiotherapist if your pain has been caused by injury or your GP if you are unsure of what is causing your pain.
4. Pharmacists are experts in this field, so you can ask to speak with one at the chemist and they can advise you on the best pain relief for you.
5. Take the course prescribed. This may be for a few days or a few weeks.
6. Stop taking any medicines if you have any adverse reactions. See your GP or pharmacist if this happens.
7. Remember if using anti inflamatories at the maximum dosage you cannot then add a rub on muscle gel or cream that contains anti-inflammatories such as Voltarol or Ibuprofen as these penetrate the skin and go into the blood adding to the dose of inflammatory drug you are getting.
I hope you have found this information helpful today, remember taking a short course of pills at the right dose and the right frequency can be safe and effective for most mild to moderate pains and can be beneficial to acute soft tissue injuries in the early stages.
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you can contact us at Physio & Therapies Ltd