Pain Management

Getting Rid of Chronic Pain

As people age, chronic pain becomes a real problem. In your younger years, you probably had pain for a short while – from a broken arm, say, or a bad toothache. But pain can become a constant, unwelcome companion for older people who have age-related illnesses like arthritis, cancer or diabetes.

However, though chronic pain often accompanies aging, that doesn’t mean it’s something you should put up with. Don’t delay going to your doctor. Here, from the National Institute on Aging (NIA), are tips on how to talk to your doctor so your pain problem can be solved.

Even though they’re very familiar with their pain, patients can have a hard time describing it. So before you go to the doctor, think about how you would describe your own pain. Some questions to consider, according to the NIA:

*Where does it hurt?

*When did it start? Does the pain come and go?

*What does it feel like? Is the pain sharp, dull, or burning? Would you use some other word to describe it?

*When do you feel the pain? In the morning? In the evening? After eating? Another time?

*Is there anything you do that makes the pain feel better or worse? For example, if you use a heating pad or ice pack, does that help? Does changing your position from lying down to sitting up make it better? Have you tried any over-the-counter medications?

*Do you have other symptoms?

You may be asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10, with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you can imagine. Your health care provider may also ask you to describe the pain, using words like mild, moderate or severe.

Treating Pain

The good news is that there are a variety of ways to treat chronic pain. Some treatments involve medications, and some do not. Your doctor may make a specialized treatment plan for you. It’s important to remember, the NIA says, that pain doesn’t always go away overnight, so ask your doctor how long it will take you to feel better. Even if you don’t get results right away, stay on schedule. As your pain lessens, you will be more active and will see your mood lift and sleep improve.As part of your pain-fighting plan, your doctor may prescribe one or more medications. They include:

Acetaminophen. This medicine is good for all types of pain, especially mild to moderate pain. It’s not habit-forming, and it’s found in over-the-counter and prescription medicines. There are some instances of allergic reactions such as hives, trouble breathing or swelling of tongue, lips and face. Heavy drinkers or people with liver disease should not take acetaminophen, the NIA says.

Often, acetaminophen, known to most of us as Tylenol, is found in other pain medicines. It’s important that you and your doctor know how much acetaminophen you are taking each day because it can cause liver damage at high doses. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about safe dosages.