Frequently Asked Questions

Should I wait until my pain is severe before taking pain medications?

Don't wait until pain is severe before taking your medicines. It is easier to control pain before it is severe. Take medications regularly. Use them exactly as prescribed. It is best to take some pain medications on a schedule.

Will I become addicted if I take narcotics for pain?

You can become addicted to all narcotics and most muscle relaxants. Addiction is more likely if you have a personal history or family history of drug or alcohol addiction. Addiction is less likely if you use your medications as instructed.

Why do I have to keep increasing my pain medication doses?

When you use pain medications you can develop what is called a tolerance. Tolerance is different than addiction. It is normal and happens as the body adjusts to a medication. The liver may learn to dispose of the medication more quickly or the tissues become less receptive to the effects of the drug. Although tolerance is normal, and you may need to increase the dose for a time, having to increase the dose indefinitely is not normal. If you are not getting relief in spite of large doses, the medicine is not working and should be changed.

Should I tell my doctor that I am having pain?

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that there may be something seriously wrong. Your provider must make sure that you are not having another problem which is causing the pain.

Some days my pain gets worse. What can I do?

Pain can increase depending on activity and stress. Often stretching, relaxing or taking an extra pill is enough. If you have frequent episodes of pain that is difficult to control it may be necessary to change your medications. Talk to your doctor.

How can I tell people how bad my pain is?

The best way to describe your pain is to rate it from zero to ten. Zero would be no pain and ten would be the worst imaginable agony. You can express how you feel with words like sharp, dull, aching, or shooting. You can also tell people about you pain by comparing it to something common, like the pain of a burn or broken bone.

Can my friends help me?

Friends and family will help you most by encouraging you to live a normal and independent life.

Do I have to suffer with pain forever?

In most cases, we can treat pain. We cannot always get rid of all of your pain. Even when we cannot get rid of all of the pain, doctors can usually help you have a normal life in spite of pain.

I have heard that nobody should have pain. Is that true?

Unfortunately, pain is a normal part of life. Pain is normal after injury and after surgery. Medications can help to decrease pain but will not possible to eliminate all of the pain. If you try to completely get rid of every pain, you will take too much medicine and will hurt yourself.

The information in this site briefly describes issues related to medical treatments, and has been licensed by from Northern California Neurosurgery Medical Group, Inc., who is solely responsible for said content.  This web site is not a substitute for good medical care or for a consultation with a spine specialist. It should not be used to plan your treatment. The well considered advice of a specialist who has personally examined you is always superior to even the best internet pages.

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Last modified: 07/22/08