Money wise, each province has different regulations regarding neuropathic drugs paid by the provincial health care system for those over 65. Most extended health care plans will cover most or all neuropathic drugs of all classes I reported earlier.
Another classes of drugs are regular pain killers you can take over-the-counter, such as aspirin type of drugs (ibuprofen etc) and acetaminophen in different combinations (those found in Tylenol to name one). However, they do not work well for neuropathic pain. Even prescription drugs that are anti-inflammatories, are not very good for neuropathic pain. There is a place for strong pain killers (morphine and morphine-like drugs called opioids), which could be quite helpful when combined with neuropathic drugs. However, their administration should be well thought (a subject of thorough discussion between you and your physician) due to several side effects and risks, and certainly they should not be the first ones or the only ones given for neuropathic pain. Remember, the same questions you will be discussing with your doctor for the neuropathic drugs that I cited earlier, should be asked as well when strong pain killers are contemplated.
Remember, drugs can be very valuable for restoration of our health, but they can also have side effects. An informed consumer who takes responsibility for his/her health and works hand-in-hand with the doctor, makes a better patient.
In the next issue, we will discuss other than drug treatments for neuropathic pain.
Angela Mailis-Gagnon, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Director, Comprehensive Pain Program
Toronto Western Hospital
Senior Investigator Krembil Neuroscience Centre and
Toronto Western Research Institute
Professor, Dept of Medicine, University of Toronto
and Chair ACTION Ontariol
Keywords: pain, treatment, drugs