How to prepare for upcoming painkiller law changes
It's time to pause and have think about your usual over-the-counter painkillers.
Becauswe as of February 1, 2018, codeine-based painkillers will no longer be available over-the-counter in Australia. While the change will bring Australia in line with most other Western countries, the change may leave some feeling anxious about the future of their pain management.
Amcal Senior Pharmacist James Nevile says that it is reasonable for pain sufferers to feel this way but there is no need to wait until the changes come in to effect to understand your pain relief options.
"Forthcoming changes to pain medication laws will mean that some pain medications currently sold over-the-counter will require a prescription from February 2018."This change will likely affect many who have become accustomed to using codeine-based painkillers to manage their symptoms. "Fortunately, there are a number of pharmacy-only medicines that don't require a prescription and are just as effective in helping to manage pain."But ultimately, it's important that pain sufferers seek support from their GP or pharmacist to develop a tailored approach to controlling pain now, for a better quality of life into the future." If you are concerned these changes could affect your pain management and are searching for new strategies to deal with pain, follow Amcal Senior Pharmacist James Nevile's advice below.
Learn more about your pain
There are two main types of pain - acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain usually starts suddenly, and lasts for a shorter period of time. If you have or are experiencing post-surgery pain, toothache, headaches and/or migraines, period pain and/or abdominal cramps, cold/flu or sinus pain, burns or cuts, or sports injuries such as sprains, it's likely to be acute pain.
The alternative is chronic pain which lasts longer than acute pain - usually more than 3 months - and is generally somewhat resistant to medical treatment. It is linked with a number of conditions including arthritis, nerve pain and back pain. It is important to understand the type of pain you're experiencing, and be able to describe the location, severity and frequency to your health care team, so they can personalise your pain management plan.
Adopt healthy habits
Incorporating moderate exercise into your daily routine will help to improve mood and strengthen muscles to prevent injury and further pain. If you are overweight, losing the extra kilos will also reduce the impact on your hip and knee joints, so ask your GP for an exercise routine that's right for you. Drinking plenty of water may also assist with pain relief for headaches, given they are often caused by dehydration.
Understand the alternatives
There are many effective alternatives to codeine-based painkillers, but selecting the right solution can be confusing, time consuming and expensive. This is where your pharmacist can help. They can explain the different choices available and help decide what is right for you to avoid weeks of trial and error.
Build your pain management team
Before the changes are introduced in February, ensure you have a good professional support base. Communicate with your Pharmacist and GP, and they will help you understand which other healthcare professionals (e.g. dietitian, physiotherapist, exercise physiologist) could be of assistance. This team can help you find complementary activities to medication that may improve your pain management - such as relaxation techniques, yoga and hot and cold therapy.