Over twenty million people in the United States have kidney disease; many of those people experience some form of pain. Their kidney disease or an unrelated condition may cause this. Their pain may range in intensity from mild to severe and be acute or chronic in nature.
Whether or not your pain is a result of kidney disease, it can be challenging to treat. Without proper pain management, acute/chronic pain can affect your quality of life and prevent you from enjoying the things you use to once cherish. Understanding the best pain treatment options for someone with kidney disease is key to creating a safe and effective pain management plan.
Why Is It So Difficult?
People typically take medicines called analgesics to manage their acute/chronic pain. More commonly referred to as “painkillers”, many analgesics can be purchased over-the-counter to relieve minor aches and pains. These non-prescription analgesics include aspirin, ibuprofen, and ketoprophen – just to name a few. For more severe pain, doctors can prescribe stronger medications.
However, over-the-counter analgesics can be dangerous for people with kidney disease; even prescription pain medications carry some risk. Most analgesics negatively affect kidney function, especially if used excessively. In some cases, this effect is temporary; a healthy kidney can recover over time. However, if people with damaged kidneys use certain analgesics, they can further reduce their kidney function and accelerate the progression of their kidney disease.
Diagnosing The Cause
Before any successful, safe treatment of acute or chronic pain can occur, it is important to properly diagnose the cause of the pain. This is essential for people with kidney disease; their doctors must help them find the correct analgesics for pain management – and determine the proper dosages. If pain is properly diagnosed, it can be treated with minimal kidney damage.
Remember – you must get a proper diagnosis from your doctor. People with kidney disease should not self-medicate their acute/chronic, even with over-the-counter analgesics.
A number of medications are safe for people with kidney disease, but only at certain dosages. This not only involves the amount of medication to be used, but also the amount of time between doses. If you use more of a prescription pain medication than what your doctor recommends (or use it more often than instructed), you risk damaging your kidneys.
These are the most commonly prescribed pain medications:
• Acetaminophen is the most commonly prescribed pain for people with kidney disease. The National Kidney Foundation supports its use for the treatment of mild to moderate pain in patients – even those with advanced kidney disease. The liver, not the kidneys, primarily metabolizes acetaminophen; however, excessive use of acetaminophen can result in liver damage.
• NSAIDs or Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs are sometimes prescribed to treat acute pain, typically for short periods of three to seven days. NSAIDs affect the kidneys; doctors may extend the times between doses and treatments. NSAIDs are typically only used if no other medications offer sufficient pain relief to a patient.
• Opioids can be used to treat moderate to severe pain in patients with kidney disease. They are metabolized by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. Doctors adjust opiate doses depending on the severity of a patient’s kidney disease. Opiods such as hydromorphone, fentanyl, and tramadol must be used with caution; codeine and meperidine are typically considered too risky to use.
Some doctors may recommend alternative treatments for managing your pain. These may include physical therapy, herbal treatments, meditation, and even acupuncture – depending on the severity and cause of your discomfort. However, other doctors may be wary of these alternative forms of treatment.
If you are considering the use of alternative treatments, you must consult with your doctor first. Make sure these alternative treatments do not adversely interact with your conventional pain relief and kidney disease treatments.
Consult with Your Florence Kidney Doctor
There is no reason that a patient with kidney disease should have to endure acute or chronic pain. While precautions do need to be taken, it is possible to successfully manage pain through the use of medications. The best way to do so is for the patient to schedule a consultation with your kidney doctor, in order to determine the cause of the pain, and to get the right prescription for medications and treatments that will not negatively affect that patient’s kidneys.
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