MANAGE PAIN WITHOUT CODEINE
How to cope without pain medication
The economic cost of pain in Australia is estimated at $34.3 billion per year. It is the nation’s third most costly health problem, after cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal conditions. The cost to the health system is approximately $7 billion per annum. As of February 1st, 2018, any pain tablets containing a mixture of codeine became prescription only. Since this requires a visit to a general practitioner, many patients are seeking alternative ways to manage pain without codeine. As a Professional Services Pharmacist, here are some suggestions on how you can manage pain without codeine.
1. Seek expert advice from your doctor or pharmacist.
While the codeine change requiring a prescription may be overwhelming, your doctor or pharmacist can assist you with the transition to manage pain without codeine. Some codeine and opioid medication help reduce strong pain sensations, but they may not assist in the recovery or improvement of physical functions.
Studies have also shown long-term use of codeine and opioid medication can increase a person’s sensitivity to pain, not provide relief. It is important to be honest about your symptoms so correct medication is prescribed to manage your discomfort. Also, keep in mind everyone tolerates and experiences pain differently. Be sure to have this conversation with your pharmacist or general practitioner before making radical changes.
2. Pursue alternative remedies.
Taking medication by mouth is one option for dealing with pain but there are other options:
Anti-inflammatory gets and rubs.
Depending on the degree and type of pain, anti-inflammatory gels, muscular rubs, massage oils and liniments can be alternatives for pain management.
Heat to relax muscles and increase circulation.
Heat treatments are another simple, effective way of relieving muscular and joint pain. Patients can use a hot water bottle, heat pack or electric blanket to increase joint mobility and relax muscles.
Acupuncture and dietary supplements could also help with certain types of pain. However, talk with your general
Your doctor or pharmacist can assist you to manage pain without codeine.
practitioner before taking any new supplements or receiving alternative treatments.
3. Find the right exercise routine for you.
If patients take steps to improve their daily and physical functions, it can positively impact their overall recovery from persistent pain. A daily routine should include gentle exercise, stress management or physiotherapy. Less strenuous exercise such as yoga and relaxation therapy are good options to begin with. An achievable exercise routine combined with a personalised pain management plan can also help to reduce symptoms. Patients can access more information about pain management from their pharmacist with private one-on-one consultations, to assist patients to understand and manage their pain. While these tips may not work for everyone, those experiencing persistent pain need to adjust to the changes in codeine availability, now only through prescription. Seek expert advice from your doctor or pharmacist, look at alternative remedies and implementing a daily exercise routine is a start to a more comfortable way to manage pain without codeine.
Melissa Hui, B.Pharm, is a qualified Pharmacist with over 10 years’ experience in community pharmacy and is a Professional Services Pharmacist for the National Discount Drug Stores Franchise Support Office.