Using Strong Prescription Medication For Chronic Pain

This hub focuses on the use of prescription painkillers to relieve chronic pain. Chronic pain is physical pain which lasts a long time, and may or may not be associated with a particular injury or illness. I will write from personal experience and from my research.

I suffer from severe back pain. I tried many alternative treatments, and many medical treatments. None relieved the pain, or even brought it down to a manageable level. In this hub I am going to write generally about the decision to take strong painkillers, and I hope to write another about specific medications I have used for pain, and my experiences with them.


Source

Making the decision


Once you have come to the place where nothing is working, and the pain has drastically limited your life, strong painkillers may be your solution. This was a difficult decision for me, because I have always wanted a natural lifestyle. I birthed both my children naturally, and did not feel I wanted or needed painkillers for either birth. I have been told I have a high pain threshold, and since over 90% of women take some type of pain medication during labor, this is probably correct. But the severity of the back pain was too much for me. If I had a thyroid condition or high blood pressure, I would take the medication necessary to continue my life, and chronic pain is also a medical condition. Also, I am a Christian, and I believe God filled the earth with substances that have a powerful effect on the human body (including a heck of a lot of plants with powerful painkilling properties) so that we would use them. These painkillers have made me able to attend my son’s games and my daughter’s plays, and to return to work, albeit on a part time basis. In short, painkillers have made me more, not less, functional.

Be proactive when dealing with doctors

I found doctors did not freely give information even when asked directly, though they would admit that I was correct once I went ahead and did something, and reported the result. From my experience, doctors think a good deal about covering themselves, and the stories of people harmed by prescription painkillers are many. A doctor can get into trouble for giving you medication, but they won’t get into trouble for refusing to give you medication. They won’t get into trouble for stonewalling. The system gives doctors a very difficult job, then vilifies, sues, and otherwise torments them when something goes wrong. When dealing with doctors as a pain patient, keep all this in mind.

A word about the “A” word

There is all the difference in the world between addiction and dependence. Yes, the body will become dependent on this substance. If the medication is suddenly stopped, the body will go through withdrawal. That does not mean the person is an addict. Addiction takes your life away. It undermines your relationships, damages your ability to be productive, and can even result in personality changes, making a previously honest person into a liar. If, on the other hand, medication gives you your life back, then it is dependence, not addiction. Humans are dependent on all sorts of things: air, water, food, social interaction. We can't function, or even live, without all sorts of substances & experiences. People in social isolation, even if they have their physical needs met, cease to function well. Long term social isolation can even be dangerous, leading to erratic behavior and confused mental processes. This doesn’t mean people are “addicted” to social interaction, but it does mean they are dependent on it to function properly. The issue is managing the things you need to live, and not allowing them to manage you.


Source

A word to the wise - the less said about your medication, the better

Many people are not very understanding about painkillers. Often they are sadly judgmental. Today I read a hub titled “Addicted to Prescription Drugs” and the author wrote in the comments section, “The drugs can become such an important part of their lives. Maybe in her sub conscience she doesn't want to rest, do physio, or have surgery as this will mean making big changes. She is in her routine of full-time work and the pain killers are her coping mechanism.” Unfortunately, many people will assume you take these medications for a non-medical reason – they will think you use them to cope with the stresses of life. And they will put their heads together with others and tsk tsk about how you take painkillers because change is hard for you. While this may seem kind of junior high school, please be aware that this attitude is all too common.

The best way to minimize gossip is to keep your medical information private. By law employers are not allowed to ask. Coworkers have no reason to know. Those of us with physical limitations often feel we owe people an explanation, but we need to remember privacy is our right. Once the information is out, you cannot take it back. Don’t swallow your pills where people are watching, and don’t take out a prescription bottle where it can be seen. I have heard murmured speculation in office situations about whether that bottle someone saw in someone's hand was perhaps antidepressants? Now wouldn’t that explain some things, and yada, yada, yada. The person in question may have been taking thyroid medication to keep her eyes from bugging out, or finishing the antibiotics from her sinus infection, but the sight of the bottle got the toungues wagging and analysing. Personally, I keep my medical information in a small circle, and I tell my trusted few that I don’t want these private details shared. For everyone else, “I have a bad back, I can’t lift that” will suffice. I’ve gotten a few glares, a few snorts from people who assume I’m shiftless, but just imagine what people this insensitive would do with the information that I take a prescription painkiller.

If you or a loved one suffer from chronic pain, you are not alone. This problem is more and more common. Seek support and advice from those who have managed to make the most of life in spite of chronic pain. Turn a deaf ear to those who have not had to live this life. They don't, they can't, understand. Do what you need to do to live the best way you can. Without prescription painkillers, I would not be able to work as a tutor; I would not have spent last Tuesday night helping three intelligent and motivated young ladies parse their way through an essay by Thoreau. This is me enjoying life.

I wish you the best.

More by this Author


Comments 21 comments

kozmo profile image

kozmo 5 years ago

I thank you for your hub. I enjoyed reading your perspective about medication, doctors, and personal decision. I also suffer from chronic pain as a result of numerous factors, the largest one being a severe car accident many years ago that ended up with skeletal damage throughout most of my body. Personally I have turned to alternate methods such as massage, accupuncture, meditation and lots of rest. I am no longer working in my profession due to this. I have tried some pain meds and they did not work well for my "head". Perhaps in another space and time I will try again. Thanks for your perspective, and good luck keeping the pain at bay!


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago Author

kozmo - Thanks for your good wishes, and I'm glad you liked the hub. I worked as a midwife's assistant before the pain got bad, and had to switch out of that physically demanding work to teaching, where I use my brain and my body doesn't matter much.


CarpalTunnelFix profile image

CarpalTunnelFix 5 years ago from Canada

nice hub i agree with u, i stopped using painkillers for my menses for a year now, and even though i have chronic pain and other issues i have been slowly coming out of those conditions, or at least slowly trying to live a normal life again which was the biggest change that happended in my life when i was in pain, your world stops and all u think about is how to reduce the pain, how to get rid of it and how to not do 'any movement' so not to agitate the pain. i became so dorment that all i do is sit and try not to 'injur' my self. well now i am slowly coming out of it, i have lost wait and resuming normal life. the most debilitating thing of all this is not the actual pain if u think of it, its the FEAR of the pain. fear is the cause of pain. and what helped me out is this blog http://www.reverse-therapy.com/imported-2010052822...

this guy helped pple with chronic and auto immune issues get back there life, i thank him so much for this blog alone it helps me everyday! and i bought his book its like 5 dollars and its 55 pages, but he helped me out more than any other type of cure. just read his blog and its enough.

the longest comment sorry for going on and on but this topic hit close to home

u gave a good informative hub


no body profile image

no body 5 years ago from Rochester, New York

Grace, I have arthritis that is eating my joints away and being fat doesn't help. I am working on the fat but in the meantime my "arthur" is slowly worsening. I have been on the same medication for years. The same dose and I am dependant on that dose at that time each day. I have withdrawl if i don't and pain that the med is controling. So I keep to my regimen. I noticed that pain started seeping through and I thought that I may be able to make my med more effective by other things so I did some research and added a few things to my daily routine. I take glucosamine and condroitin and MSM. I found a big difference and recently I added fish oil. These things aid my prescription so I have not had to up my med at all. The last I went to the doc, he said, "I don't know why you aren't screaming out in pain but whatever you are doing, keep doing it." I told him what I was doing and included the prayer. He looked at me funny and gave me a dismissive look like he was at odds with those things.


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago Author

nobody - Pain seems a part of modern life, so many are affected. I agreed that there are alot of things one can do to "support" the painkillers - good diet, careful exercise, good social support makes a big difference. I always think it's a good thing to mention prayer to the doc. Who knows, maybe after a lifetime of hearing patients say that, the doctor will think there's something to it.


MisaLeonessa profile image

MisaLeonessa 5 years ago

Grace,

Thank you for sharing your journey through the challenge of living with chronic pain. You are so right that most people don't understand and shouldn't be given information they have no framework to comprehend. It is good, though, to talk to others who DO understand, and your article is a breath of fresh air in that direction!


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago Author

Carpeltunnel - Thank you very much for that blog link. I've been looking around on it, and it has a really interesting perspective, in addition to being well written.


JT Walters profile image

JT Walters 5 years ago from Florida

Hi Grace,

I hve three slipped discs in very bad locations, two tonr roatator ucffs, adhenisve capsulitis and arthritis and i just refuse to do anyting but motrin. When my Mom was dying I took soemthing for anxiety but got off of it once she was dead. Sometime I think the cures are worse then the pain or the disease. I find if you try ot keep it a secret you take medication then everyone likes to label you an addict as well even when you are not. Addict seems to be the new label in America.

Great hub with great advice for everyone suffering and it was very sensitive and well done.

JT


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 5 years ago Author

JT - I'm so sorry to hear about your physical troubles. When i talk about my own struggles with my body i discover how common these issues are. The decision to use or not use painkillers is a very personal one. i think you are right that 'addict' is all too popular a label.


JT Walters profile image

JT Walters 5 years ago from Florida

Thanks Grace,

After watching my Mom die, it all seems very relative and I can take it. Your article destigmatizes a very sensitive subject and is very educational. It was well done.

JT


cathylynn99 profile image

cathylynn99 4 years ago from northeastern US

practical advice, especially about keeping your prescriptions to yourself. gossip happens.


Emily40 profile image

Emily40 4 years ago

This was great. And i agree. Thanks for sharing. I'm 17 yrs and I suffer excruciating pain in my chest, back, spine, hip, knees, ankles, muscles, head....practically my entire body. An I've tried alot of strong pain killers which my body get use too so its not effective anymore.I keep looking for something more an more stronger all the time and then i start from the first one i used. So its like a cycle for me. Due to my chronic illnesses my pain is life time. Unless i get proper treatment, i guess :( life sucks


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 4 years ago Author

Emily - I used to post on a board for chronic pain sufferers, and there was a middle aged man there who had had severe pain since age 17. He still completed college, worked as a college administrator for many years. The pain eventually got just too bad and the medication couldn't bring the pain level down enough, so he had to leave his job. He took to writing mystery novels - he had to rig a computer which he could type laying down, b/c he couldn't sit or stand for very long anymore. -So , a longwinded story, but pain sufferers can still manage to do things. You sound like you have a good, even attitude. Blessings.


Emily40 profile image

Emily40 4 years ago

Yes i know i just have to put my mind to it and be determined. Its hard at times but i know i'll make it thru life. Cheers


4 years ago

Trying to accept the fact that you are dependant when getting a script but an addict if you cant afford it anymore has been the most trying part of my living in constant pain


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 4 years ago Author

e - The system puts those of us in serious pain into very difficult, not to mention demoralizing and insulting positions. The whole addict issue - and the label - can be cruel to those simply trying to stay functional. Sometimes I think the medical establishment has a higher priority of 'Punish those addicts! Don't let them get away with anything!' than helping people with medical problems.

Thank you for reading and commenting. We need a better system to help people with pain stay functional, allowing them to keep their dignity. Chronic pain is only becoming more common. We need to deal with it as a society.


Sphinxs Sanctum profile image

Sphinxs Sanctum 3 years ago from Southern United States

graceomalley - I tripped across your hub as it was listed at the bottom of one of my poems called, "Invisible Oppressor." I'm glad I tripped! Strangely enough, I too have written a hub on this topic but haven't published mine yet as the "Rules" the DEA has placed upon physicians & pharmacies is making it more & more difficult for patients to get the meds that allow them to have some degree of function. Seems I'm adding to my hub all the time. My Dr says they're making it impossible for him to properly treat his chronic pain patients & he's a Harvard trained physician! I personally have spent Hours, driving to different pharmacies after getting a written prescription, trying to find one that either has it in stock or is willing to fill it! This is the treatment I'm facing having never presented a single sign of addiction & previously had my scripts filled thru a giant, chain pharmacy for years, with zero trouble. I am now treated like a crack-head on the hunt for my fix & it is so very degrading. Any person who needs to take pain medication in order to have some quality of life, is now treataed no better than the guy peddling drugs on the corner. Something Must Change! I am sorry you're in a position to have need for pain medications but they ARE Medications & not simply drugs to "get by." It is long past time for people to understand this & for those that have pain but continue to state that those of us on pain meds don't really need it, then they haven't experienced the Worst of the Worst pain yet! It makes me insane for others to presume they know how severe my pain is.

I'll be sure to follow you from this point forward. Well written article.

Thanks!


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 3 years ago Author

Spinx - Thank you for a well stated comment that adds to the discussion! I hope you publish your hub soon.

People do not understand chronic pain unless they have experienced it. And they can be so judgemental. I did natural childbirth twice, and i am no wimp. During childbirth i handled the pain fine, i had no desire for pain killers. The chronic pain is different. All i want is to take care of my family and function in my home busness, and for this the medication is necessary. I think patients are going to have to 'get the word out' of reality on this one. What we want is to be functioning members of society - the opposite of addicts.


breastpumpreviews profile image

breastpumpreviews 3 years ago from TX

Thank you for sharing this hub. I had to start taking pain killers over a year ago for my back pain. I took was reluctant because I didn't want to become addicted. However, my pain wasn't going away and in fact it was getting worse. I have tried every non-envasive procedure available for my condition and nothing has help me. I don't want to go under the knife unless it is my last ditch effort and I begin having nerve problems. I would rather take medicine and cope with my pain than to have surgery and have bigger problems.


graceomalley profile image

graceomalley 3 years ago Author

reviews - I think you are on the right track - I had a very difficult surgery, and still have to take pain killers to function. When i had surgery i didnt know that only 1 in 5 back surgeries are successful at resulting in a lower level of pain. The odds are on your side to avoid surgery.


breastpumpreviews profile image

breastpumpreviews 3 years ago from TX

I'll have to check out your other hubs about chronic pain. My pain has only been unbearable since about this time last year. So I know that I have a long road ahead of me and I am fairly young. It's heartbreaking because I once was an active person.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working