Dealing with pain addiction


Andrew Sentongo (not real name) got a traumatic injury  before taking pain killers  to ease pain. But taking painkillers did not relieve him  of the pain for several days.

 He continuously took the painkillers.  But whenever he  abandoned them,  the pain would resurrect  and become  so  unbearable that he  decided to visit the doctor at the clinic. He was  told that he should have reported to a health facility the  previous day.

How to deal with pain

Pain is a very common condition. At least, a third  of athletes and other people have suffered from chronic pain either after injury or disease infection with one in five reporting that their pain is constant.

The occurrence of pain is likely due to an injury that insn’t managed well or recurring traumatic cases in the joints, bones and muscles.

Pain management strategies include pain-relieving medications, physical or occupational and complementary therapies such as acupuncture and massage.

Pain ladder or analgesic ladder as medically termed was created by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a guideline for the use of drugs in the management of pain.

Previously this concept was based on cancer patients but it’s now widely used by professionals in managing various forms of pain.

The guidelines recommended prompt oral administration, if the pain is not severe with non-opioid drugs such as paracetamol (panadol) or non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Diclofenac, Ibuprofen, and Pyroxicam among others.

Once pain relief is not achieved or disease progression persists,   weak  opioid such as Codeine or Tramadol is used.

Finally, if this becomes insufficient too, a weak opioid is replaced with a strong opioid such as Morphine.

Studies    suggest  that   a person’s outlook and the way they cope emotionally with long-term (chronic) pain    can influence their quality of life.

Addiction to pain killers is a common problem.

Taking  painkillers for a long time  increases a patient’s risk to chronic pain. This is because painkillers mask the transmission of pain impulses from the receptors of the affected body tissues like muscles, bones, ligaments to the brain without necessarily eliminating the problem.

Continued use of painkillers will not only create resistance to pain management, but it can also pose a negative effect on the health of the individual who     uses     them      continuously.

Prolonged use of pain medication also puts your liver and kidneys at a high risk of damage.

It affects other physiological processes that help in wound healing.

Pain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) block the formation of pain by playing a negative role on the oxygenase enzymes, which is very vital in the process of inflammation that is important for the process of healing.

Solution to addiction

Every problem in health, whether traumatic or pathological, that causes pain must be dealt with meticulously to make sure that is eliminated using the various forms of treatment available  instead of depending on pain medications alone.

Dr Gabriel Isaac Otuk is an Orthopaedic and a consultant with the UCU Sports Department

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