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  • Writer's pictureSamantha McPherson

Why Taking Short Term Pain Relief May Help You get Better, Quicker.

Every day patients ask me; 'when to come off their pain relief’ or say to me ‘I don’t like taking tablets’, and I tell them what I will tell you now. I am not a Pharmacist or General Practitioner. Which leaves me wildly underqualified from a prescribing sense on how to advise. There are physiotherapists out there that have qualified prescribing abilities (well done you! – it’s on my to do list). That said, physiotherapists are often asked and therefore tasked with giving general advice around taking the tablets. And, with around 10,000 patients under my belt, I have some helpful, basic advice around temporarily boosting the body’s pain tolerance whilst it heals.

Listen to the Experts

Always talk to a qualified prescriber – yes, I know, not myself. Feel free to use my advice on when it is appropriate but when it comes to dosages, types, clashes with other tablets, spending a few mins with a pharmacist is essential. I would be remiss not to advise this.

Curb Your Pain

Are you suffering with pain? If so, please don’t. Regular pain relief for a short period is generally safe if you are fit and well. Getting you back to normal life is more important than a spell on some off the shelf tablets. I have several examples including patients that try to switch down pain relief two weeks post a knee replacement! Meaning a stiff, sore and underused new knee. Or someone with backpain taking just a couple of days’ worth of pain relief then ‘powering through’ only to be in a pickle again after a few days. Treat pain relief like a course in order to get you over the injury/spasm/surgery only, it’s not a lifestyle choice.

Maintain Movement

There is really no need to struggle on, if you have musculoskeletal pain then taking some pain relief in order manage symptoms and return to some activity is a good idea. Often, MSK pain needs movement to resolve. In the case of the knee, whereby the muscles switch off if they are sore and swollen, reducing those symptoms helps it stay stronger and keeps you moving.

Mix and Match

Remember that pain management can come in different forms. Lots of patients find that a combination of ice and heat helps. It’s a classic for a reason – frozen peas in a tea towel being my number one choice! For muscle pain there is always that nice relaxing bath and National Geographic recently reported some studies into relaxing music, ocean scenes and virtual reality headsets helping reduce the pain experience.

Seek Help and Ask Questions

This article is not to say that all MSK pain should be tackled with lots of pills. Quite the opposite, it’s to encourage a course of pain relief in order to return to great health. If it’s not temporary pain or gets worse, then talk to a GP or physiotherapist and ask the question ‘when should I expect the pain to settle naturally’. This gives you an idea of how effective the pain relief should be in the short term, if it isn’t working then more investigations may be needed. Speak to a prescriber, have an expectation on when pain should settle and get it checked out if it doesn’t. You deserve to be able to manage pain effectively.

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