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There are lots of myths and misunderstanding about medication. Firstly, medication will not mask your pain enough so that you can do your self more damage.
Imagine if you put your hand on a hot plate when it was switched on, even with strong pain killers it would still feel like a burn and you would take your hand off pretty quickly.
On the whole, if you take medication for acute pain it is about improving your quality of life, while nature takes it course and gets you better.
If you take pain medication for chronic pain, it is not about curing you of your symptoms, it is about improving the level of pain so you can function a little better.
There are lots of types of medication which come under different groups.
Firstly there are anti-inflammatories, these treat your condition by reducing chemicals caused by an injury or a condition like arthritis.
They are very clever at stopping certain chemicals being produced that would in themselves cause pain.
You would recognise them as Ibuprofen if you buy them from the chemist yourself, or if the doctor prescribes them they may be stronger such as Naproxen or Diclofenac.
Remember these type of medications are not strictly pain killers, so they do not work in 20 minutes and wear off in a few hours, they work in the background all the time to treat the problem.
That is why you must take them regularly.
There are simply analgesic medications (medical term for painkiller) such as paracetamol and just because we use it for a headache, does not mean it is not good for stronger pain.
It has the fewest side effects of all painkillers so is always a good starting drug.
You then move onto stronger medication that usually contains codeine.
Codeine works because the body produces special enzymes to covert it to morphine, a very strong painkiller.
However, seven per cent of the population do not produce this enzyme and so will get no benefit from this drug.
Care needs to be taken, as this drug can be addictive and produce headaches when it is stopped, so making you take more tablets to combat the headache.
The other important thing is that just as the body produces special enzymes to activate the codeine, so it will produce enzymes having the opposite effect if you take too many, so your pain could get worse if you take more than you are prescribed - this is very important to remember.
Next time I will talk about stronger painkillers from your doctor
by Helen Mumby-Croft
Aspire Health and Wellbeing Spa
The Crescent, Spalding