Cold Lake pharmacist discusses chronic pain

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This September, it’s important to raise awareness about chronic pain, a critical health condition that can be physically and emotionally debilitating. Estimates show that a quarter of Canadians aged 15 and older live with chronic pain. Given its prevalence, it is important to raise awareness of chronic pain and increase access to treatment and support.

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There is no clear cause for chronic pain, as many factors can lead to its occurrence. Chronic pain can develop in many ways, including after injury or illness, or it can occur without a known cause. Although chronic pain can be associated with other diseases, the World Health Organization has recognized it in recent years as a disease in its own right.

When it comes to taking charge of your health and well-being, as a pharmacist, I’m here to help you access the advice and care you need, when and where you want it. To do this, I’ve put together a few ways we can help you on your pain management journey:

  • Opioid Awareness and Intervention – Pharmacists are an accessible and knowledgeable resource who play an important role in the safe use of analgesics. Opioid pain relievers are an effective treatment for chronic pain when used as directed, especially when used in conjunction with other nonpharmaceutical treatments. However, misuse of these drugs can lead to serious health effects, including addiction and accidental overdose. It is essential that you understand what you are taking and what the dosage is, your pharmacist can help you feel confident in your pain management treatment. Anyone taking opioids may be at risk for an overdose, but the effects of an overdose can be temporarily reversed by administering naloxone. This life-saving medicine is available from pharmacies as take-home kits without a prescription, and your pharmacist can teach you how to use it. Talk to your local pharmacist for a free naloxone kit. Restrictions may apply. The most important thing to remember when taking opioids is to use them as directed and to consult a pharmacist if you are unsure of dosage or duration of use.
  • Mental health support – Due to the invisible and subjective nature of the disease, people suffering from chronic pain often feel isolated and may have difficulty accessing care and support. This lack of support, combined with physical pain, can have a significant impact on your mental and emotional well-being. Pharmacists are a non-judgmental resource you can turn to who recognize the stigma surrounding chronic pain. As healthcare professionals, pharmacists will not only help you find pain relief, but they can also provide emotional support by working with you to manage this isolating illness.
  • Connect to the care you need – Sometimes people with chronic conditions may not feel ready to come to the store, and that’s where the PC Health app comes in. The PC Health app offers real-time virtual pharmacist services, to get advice on prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers. Other health care providers, including doctors and massage therapists, are also available to help you on your path to wellness. Plus, you can try different health programs for your well-being while earning PC Optimum™ points as you go. Download the app for free at

Pharmacist support goes far beyond dispensing medication, we’re here to support you throughout your healthcare journey. Speak with your local pharmacist today for help managing your pain.

Newton Fan is a pharmacist and owner of the Cold Lake Shoppers Drug Mart.

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