Handbook for Mortals : Controlling Pain : How often to take pain medicine

Usually, you must take opioids around the clock to relieve and prevent pain. Some people try not to take opioids too often for fear that they will become addicted to the medicine. But waiting until you "need the medicine" or "can't stand the pain anymore" is not an effective way to take opioids. First, it means that you will have much more pain. Second, when your pain becomes extreme, it will take more medicine to relieve your pain. To get good pain relief with the least amount of medicine, take your medications, especially opioids, on schedule. Try to prevent pain rather than to have to treat it.

I knew I was free in a way I'd never felt before.... The pain was still unquestionably in me; but... it seemed contained and watched from a distance.

-- Reynolds Price, from A Whole New Life.

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Handbook for Mortals book cover Copyright © 1999, 2006 by Joanne Lynn. This extract from the Handbook for Mortals by Joanne Lynn, M.D. and Joan Harrold, M.D. is used with permission. To learn more about improving care at the end of life visit the main web site for Americans for Better Care of the Dying.
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