Nortriptyline for Pain: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Your doctor prescribed nortriptyline to help relieve your pain. Although it is often used to treat depression, it is also used for pain and to improve sleep. It has been found to be safe and effective over many years of use.

The right dose of this medicine is different for each person. It is important for you and your doctor to find the dose that works best for you. This medicine may make you sleepy, so be sure to take it at bedtime. Follow your doctor's instructions exactly.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Start by taking the dose your doctor instructs at bedtime. Take this dose for the number of days that he or she tells you to. If your pain is not relieved after this time period, follow your doctor's directions on how to continue and how to slowly increase the dose.
  • Here are some points to remember about taking nortriptyline:
    • You need to take nortriptyline every day for it to be effective.
    • If you miss a dose, do not take a double dose to make up for it. Just take the next daily dose as prescribed by your doctor.
    • Once your pain is relieved, do not increase to the next dose. Continue the same dose.
    • If you have side effects on a particular dose, take the prior lower dose, and call your doctor for further instructions.
    • Nortriptyline can cause dry mouth. To relieve this, try sugar-free gum, ice, or sugar-free sweets. If a dry mouth is still a problem, tell your doctor.
    • It may take several weeks after you start nortriptyline for the medicine to work.
    • Do not stop taking nortriptyline suddenly.
    • Do not drink alcohol. It may increase drowsiness and dizziness.
    • Remember to stand up slowly to prevent dizziness and falls after taking the medicine.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your heart rate becomes irregular.
  • You can feel your heart flutter in your chest or skip heartbeats.
  • You have problems urinating.
  • You are dizzy or lightheaded.
  • You are very sleepy.
  • You do not understand how to take your medicine.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.