Using medications to improve your function

​​As you start taking medications, you and your healthcare team may need to try a few types to give you the best results. Pain-relieving medications work best when you use them with physical and psychological therapies.

When you and your healthcare team are deciding whether a medication is working, it is important to look at whether the medication is:

  • helping to reduce your pain

  • helping you live a normal life by improving your function.

Often, your function will improve before your pain is reduced. And sometimes, your pain feels less intense, but the side effects of the medications mean that you are actually doing less than you were before starting the medication. The right dose of pain medication for you is the dose that reduces your pain and improves your functioning with the fewest negative side effects.

Your healthcare team will usually recommend a combination of pain medications to help reduce your pain. This approach is called balanced analgesia (analgesia means pain relief). It allows you to use smaller doses of a variety of pain medications so that your overall pain is reduced, but the side effects from any one medication are less severe.

Goals of chronic pain management

The goals of chronic pain management are to:

  • improve your mood and reduce anxiety

  • improve your sleep

  • develop the skills you need to cope with persistent pain

  • improve your relationships with family, friends and/or partner

  • improve your self-confidence to live a full life despite your pain

  • restore or improve your general life functioning (for example attending school or work, spending time with people, participating in things that are important to you)

  • reduce pain wherever possible.