When dealing with a patient’s chronic or acute pain, there are any number of treatment options your pain management doctor may recommend, depending, of course, on the underlying cause and severity of your distress.
For example, if you’re only experiencing mild or moderate head or muscle pain, you may only need over-the-counter medication to quell the discomfort.
However, if you’re experiencing intense pain from an injury, illness, or prior surgery, you might be prescribed something a lot stronger. That includes a drug classified as an opioid, such as codeine, fentanyl, Demerol, methadone, morphine, or Oxycontin.
Before you follow this course of treatment, however, here’s what you should know:
Addiction Risk, Withdrawal Symptoms
Opioids are narcotics and, as such, can cause harmful side effects if they are not used correctly. For one thing, they bind to receptors in your brain, spinal cord, and other areas, signaling that you’re not in pain.
While that may sound all well and good, after taking an opioid for an extended period of time, you might find yourself needing more of the drug to sustain the pain-relieving effect. That can lead to an increasingly powerful dependence on the drug. And if you abruptly stop taking the medication, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that may include muscle pain, anxiety, nausea, and diarrhea.
In the worst-case scenario, you can develop a serious addiction to your opioid medication. At that point, your behavior may become so erratic that it leads to adverse consequences in your personal and/or professional life. People addicted to opioids have been known to compulsively seek more of the medication by any means available. That includes purchasing it on the street where such drugs are often laced with potentially lethal doses of fentanyl. Opioids can also be dangerous when mixed with alcohol or taken with other prescription drugs.
How Your Pain-Management Doctor Can Help
Due to the harmful side effects of opioid use, your use of this powerful narcotic must be closely monitored by your doctor. It is necessary that you’re taking the drug as instructed and that the dosage be adjusted as necessary to help control your pain while avoiding or, at least, minimizing the side effects. Your doctor can also identify any potential medical conditions or other factors – such as kidney disorders, sleep apnea, or alcohol use – that could make you more likely to experience these harmful side effects.
There is no question that opioids can be an effective therapy for those with severe pain who may not respond well to other pain-relieving methods or medications. It’s just a matter of using them safely and implicitly following your doctor’s instructions.
If you are experiencing severe or chronic pain and don’t know where to turn for relief, the health care providers at Balcones Pain Consultants can help. We provide an extensive array of effective treatments for all sorts of painful conditions designed to address your symptoms promptly and enable you to lead a happier, pain-free life. To schedule an appointment at a Balcones Pain Consultants location near you, call (512) 834-4141 or use our appointment request form.