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Medicines optimization in acute and chronic pain

      Abstract

      Pain is a complex condition and warrants a multidisciplinary approach based on a bio-psycho-social model. Whilst often successful in acute pain, pharmacological treatment is rarely successful on its own in the management of chronic pain due to the high number of patients needed to treat to achieve a clinically meaningful improvement in function, quality of life and pain scores. There are also significant side effects in the short and long term. Recent re-analysis of clinic trial data focused on individual responder rates, showed that there is a cohort of patients who achieve 50% pain relief with subsequent improvement in physical function. To avoid intolerable side effects from medication used for chronic pain, titration needs to be slow and aimed towards the agreed risk–benefit between patients and treating physician with a clear plan for weaning and cessation if these goals are not achieved. Pain-orientated physiotherapy, either on its own or as part of a pain management programme, should be offered and medication reduced or weaned after restoration of function has been achieved.

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