Over the Counter Codeine & Persistent Pain

As of the 1st of February 2018, Codeine medication will no longer be available over the counter. This includes medications such as Panadeine, Nurofen Plus and also some cough suppressant medications. From that date onwards, these medications will be prescription only.

This is part of a strategy to reduce the over use and harm caused by opioid medications in Australia.  You might be surprised to hear that the number of deaths (includes intentional and accidental overdose) have been rising significantly in Australia to more than doubling over a recent ten year period.

One of the common reasons for using codeine medication is for pain relief, and it can be a very effective means for doing so in the short term.  In the long term, however, there are a number of reasons that codeine and other opioid medication use is not advisable.

Not only is it a drug of dependence, which carries a number of potential side effects, but clinically we understand that it is not an effective way to manage ongoing persistent pain. Research indicates that in many cases, it can actually make pain problems worse in the long term.

Persistent pain is very difficult to treat.  The best outcomes seem to come from therapies which integrate evidence based medical management (with a GP or specialist), education and exercise.  The concept of exercising when you are experiencing pain can be somewhat daunting and counter intuitive, but with the right advice and coaching from a trained health professional, this can be a very effective way to improve one’s condition and functional capacity.

Over time, persistent pain can cause a number of changes in our nervous system, including our brain, which can contribute to sensitivity to activities and movements.  Our thoughts and beliefs can positively or negatively change our experiences.  This is why coaching and educating patients with these problems is so important. The video below is a great (and simple) explanation of why pain persists and what we can do about it.

Move for Better Health provides treatment for Chronic and Persistent Pain, including back pain and headaches and can work closely with your medical practitioner to ensure you are receiving the best possible care.


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