When it comes to treating chronic pain such as arthritis or low back pain, it’s important to remember that what works for one patient may not work for the next patient. Some people are able to control their pain by taking a nonprescription medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), while others may need an opioid (also known as narcotics). Tablets or capsules containing the opioid hydrocodone plus acetaminophen (known as Vicodin or Lortab) are among the most commonly dispensed medications in the US. But remember: just because this medication is popular doesn’t make it the best pain reliever for everyone!
For example, a recent study showed the older adults who were prescribed a short-acting opioid such as hydrocodone or oxycodone (e.g., Percocet) were twice as likely to break a bone in the following year compared to those on a long-acting opioid or a different pain medication altogether. How can doctors tell which pain medication to prescribe to best treat your pain, without increasing the risk of side effects? People also frequently turn to their pharmacist for medication advice – how does the pharmacist know what to recommend for your pain?
It all starts with a careful description of your pain. Read more »