Question: My name is Jean. I suffer from chronic pain related to fibromyalgia, arthritis, and osteoporosis. My question is: When prescribed pain medication that is to be taken every six hours, as needed, is it more beneficial just to take the pain medication even though you don't have the pain?
Answer: Well, Jean, if you infrequently experience pain, maybe only a few times a week, then I would recommend taking the medication only when you're having the pain. However, if you're the kind of person who experiences your pain many times a day every day, then it's a better idea to take it every six hours right along. The reason for this is that when you don't take your medication for a long period of time, you end up with a very low blood level of that medication. You then take the medication, your blood level goes up, and if you don't take it for a long period of time, the blood level will drop again. And it will take many, many hours or many doses to build the blood level back up. If, however, you take that medication on a steady every six-hour basis, you'll be able to maintain a nice steady-state blood level of the drug, and that will make the drug more effective.