1) Should I take pain medication only when I have a lot of pain?
No. Don't wait until pain becomes severe to take pain medication. Pain is easier to control when it is mild. You should take your pain medication regularly, just as prescribed. Sometimes this means taking medicine on a regular schedule, even when you don't feel pain.
2) Will I become addicted to narcotic pain medications?
Not necessarily, if you take your medication exactly as prescribed. There are also effective pain medications that are non-addictive. A person's likelihood of becoming addicted depends, in part, on their addiction history. Addiction is less likely if you have never abused drugs or had an addictive disorder. Ask your doctor about any concerns you may have.
3) Why do I need to keep taking more of my medicine to have the same effect?
This situation occurs when you have developed tolerance to a drug. Tolerance is a normal physiological response to narcotics and occurs when the initial dose of a substance loses its effectiveness over time. Changing the dose or the medication often solves the problem. Just because you have become tolerant to a drug does not mean that you are addicted to that drug.
4) Should I tell my medical provider that I am having pain?
Yes. Your health care provider needs to assess your pain, so it is very important for your health care team to know if you are in pain.
5) Some days my acute pain is much worse. What can I do?
You might notice at times that you are in more pain than usual (such as at the end of a tiring day or as a result of certain activities). If you notice that certain activities contribute to your pain, or that you feel worse at certain times of the day, medication can be taken prior to the activity (or time of day) to help prevent the pain from occurring. You may also be prescribed a long-acting pain medication with a short-acting one for breakthrough pain that you take as needed. Always be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
6) How should I describe my pain to my doctor?
Describe your pain clearly and in as much detail as possible. Most doctors and nurses ask you to describe your level of pain on a scale.
7) What can my friends and family do to help with my pain?
Friends and family can help by encouraging you to live as normally and independently as possible.
8) Do I have to suffer with chronic pain for the rest of my life?
Not necessarily. With proper treatment, people can live full, normal lives after having experienced chronic pain.