LA Orthopedic Group can utilize Medications as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Medications are often prescribed to help manage the pain experienced when joints, bones, nerves, or soft tissues are injured or irritated in some way. The type of medications that may be recommended will be based on several factors:
- Symptoms experienced
- Medical history
- Location of discomfort
- Duration and severity of pain
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Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
The pain felt from injuries to joints and soft tissues is usually due to some type of inflammation. NSAIDs are often beneficial for sports-related injuries since it’s the swelling that usually triggers pain and makes it difficult to move the affected joint. Anti-inflammatory medication may also provide relief for patients with pain related to:
- Chronic inflammation-based conditions such as arthritis
- Strains or sprains
- Joint stiffness
- Inflammation that’s contributing to nerve compression or irritation
Opioids are the most common type of pain relief medication. They work on opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body to decrease the sensation of pain. Because of the potential to experience serious side effects or develop an addiction as a tolerance builds up, opioid pain medications are only meant to be used on a short-term basis.
Also offering anti-inflammatory benefits, corticosteroids can be taken orally or delivered in the form of an injection placed directly into the affected area. Epidural injections, nerve blocks, and facet joint injections are among the most common types of injections used for diagnostic or pain management purposes. Relief from injections of corticosteroids may allow patients to actively participate in physical therapy and other treatments.
Primarily used to treat depression, anti-depressants are sometimes used for pain relief purposes by orthopedic doctors. The pain relieving properties of anti-depressants aren’t fully understood. It’s believed they decrease pain signals sent to the brain by increasing the production of chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) such as endorphins. They are typically used to help with the management of chronic pain conditions, including:
- Arthritis or osteoarthritis
- Lower back pain
- Diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain
- Radiating nerve pain
Often recommended for lower back or neck pain caused by muscle spasms, muscle relaxants have a sedative effect. These medications provide relief by working within the brain, not directly on muscle tissues, although they may minimize or prevent muscle spasms. Some patients report improvements with sleep with muscle relaxants. They may also be used when patients are starting physical therapy to help increase range of motion.
Anti-seizure medications like topiramate and gabapentin may be used to treat nerve-related pain that’s triggering seizures. It’s often sudden and sharp nerve pain that contributes to seizures.
While meant to provide relief, medications do not always treat the actual source of pain. For this reason, drug treatments with either over-the-counter or prescription medications are only a part of orthopedic care. It’s just as important for patients to receive an accurate diagnosis of what’s causing any type of pain, whether it’s acute (sudden and often short in duration) or chronic (usually progressive in nature and persistent). Most patients benefit from a comprehensive treatment plan that includes medication, physical therapy, and prevention.