Being injured, in pain, and off work can be extremely challenging. Depending on your injury and/or past injuries you may be experiencing acute or chronic pain, or both.
There are two kinds of pain, acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain happens after an injury and will go away as the injury heals. It can be treated with painkillers and alternative pain management. Chronic Pain is defined as pain that lasts more than 3 months. If it’s lasting that long, it likely won’t go away without some form of healthcare intervention. There are several alternative treatments and approaches for managing chronic pain, many of which are covered by BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP) – meaning you won’t have to pay out of pocket.
If you’re prescribed opioids: When used correctly under medical supervision, opioids can be a tool to address pain. However, there are many risks and harms associated with opioids. Here are a few ways to reduce those risks:
- Use in short periods: Continuous use of opioids (in particular longer than 2 weeks) can lead to physical dependence because your body gets used to having a regular supply of the drug. Therefore, use opioids for as short a period as possible. Make a plan with your health- care provider for when you’re ready to stop the medication; stopping your meds abruptly can cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms.
- Low Dose: Use the lowest dose possible to control your pain.
- Keep Them Secure: Keep your meds in a secure place so that no one else can use them.
- Dispose Safely: Return unused medications to a pharmacy to ensure they’re disposed of safely.
Returning to Work: Planning your return to work is an important task that should be done in consultation with your healthcare provider and your employer. Returning to work before your pain has subsided and become manageable can result in further injury, pain, and risks to safety. If you must return to work before your pain has subsided, discuss the possibility of alternative tasks with your employer to ensure a safe recovery.
Online Resources: If you’re currently experiencing severe pain, contact a medical professional immediately. If you have had your pain addressed, or know someone currently living with chronic or acute pain, please see the resources below.