There has been a huge increase in the number of analgesic medicines prescribed in Wales over the last 10 years. The majority of this increase is due to trying to treat people who have long-term, persistent pain. This is pain related to conditions like back pain and arthritis rather than conditions like as cancer or neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis.
Pain affects everyone at some point in their life. Perhaps because of an accident or an injury, but pain can also come from other conditions like diabetes, arthritis or something that has healed, like shingles. Some people get pain for no obvious reason.
When you have pain, you might take analgesic medicine or ‘painkillers’ as they are better known.
The term ‘painkiller’ can make you think that by taking them, the pain will go away completely. Occasionally, this might be the case. However, analgesics are unlikely to take the pain away completely for most people, most of the time.
Analgesics should be used to reduce the intensity, or how much pain, you feel.
If you feel less pain, it should help you to do more of the things you need to and enjoy.
There are a number of different analgesic medicines that you might be offered:
There are many concerns that these medicines, opioids and gabapentinoids in particular, are not actually very helpful for long-term pain conditions. Analgesics can also cause side effects and other long-term health problems. There is evidence that using these medicines can lead to dependence and sometimes addiction.
Pharmacy and Medicines Management are leading the Analgesic Awareness campaign across the health board to help people understand the risks of these medicines and how they can be used safely, as part of a pain management plan.
If you have been using analgesic medicines for more than three months and do not think they have changed your pain for the better, please speak to your pharmacist or another healthcare professional about having a review of your medicines. They can also discuss the many other ways that you can get support to live better with pain.
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