Codeine changes prompt calls for alternative pain relief

STEERING CLEAR: Lara-Jade Kristensen lives with chronic pain but avoids using codeine to manage it. Photo: Jacob McArthur 050218JMA02
STEERING CLEAR: Lara-Jade Kristensen lives with chronic pain but avoids using codeine to manage it. Photo: Jacob McArthur 050218JMA02

PAIN can hit Lara-Jade at any point in the day, anywhere on her body.

Miss Kristensen has lived with fibromyalgia since 2005, a chronic condition which can cause pain in muscles and joints anywhere from her head to her toes.

She said pain could be sparked by unconventional triggers like light, sound and changes in the temperature, as a result of the condition.

But the Tamworth woman resolved “no tablet was going to sort that out” and believed she wouldn’t be affected by recent changes to the sale of over-the-counter codeine painkillers.

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Ms Kristensen said she’s been managing her pain for a number years using heat and ice packs, as well as stretching.

She said doctors warned her early-on to avoid becoming reliant on codeine painkillers.

“The last thing I wanted was to get addicted,” she said.

She said Panadeine Forte, which already requires a prescription “kind of does help”, but only “with certain areas of pain in the body”.

While chronic pain sufferers adjust to the changes, there’s been no shortages of alternatives suggested to manage ailments, including physiotherapy and medicinal cannabis.

“The good news is that physiotherapy is proven to provide effective pain relief, which treats rather than simply masks the underlying cause of pain,” president of the Australian Physiotherapy Association Phil Calvert said.

“So we want them to know that physiotherapists help people to manage their pain and recover movement with great success, without the use of addictive drugs.”

Senator David Leyonhjelm said cannabis must fill the codeine gap.

“With prescription-only rules for codeine coming into effect [on February 1], it has now become a matter of urgency that seriously ill patients obtain access to an effective and safe alternative,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“If the federal government cannot remove the bureaucratic barriers doctors are currently facing when trying to legally administer medicinal cannabis, the black market for products such as codeine-based pain killers will flourish.”

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