Back Pain and Opioids
Opioids are powerful pain relievers prescribed for some patients with chronic lower back pain. The use of these drugs is complicated for both patients and physicians because of the controversy over misuse and potential dependence, not often associated with other back pain treatments.
Opioids work by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and the spinal cord, preventing the transmission of pain messages. In addition, they work in the brain to alter the sensation of pain. Opioid do not take the pain away, they merely reduce and alter your perception of the pain.
Below are the commonly prescribed opioid pain medications:
The common side effects of opioid medications include: euphoria, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, dilated pupils, constipation, itching, dizziness, and respiratory depression. You should inform your health care provider if you experience any side effects.
Long term use of opioids can result in physical or mental dependence on the drug. A person who has become physically dependent to opioids may develop withdrawal symptoms when the medicine is discontinued. It is also possible to build tolerance to opioids when they are used for a long period. Later on, the body would need larger and larger doses for pain relief.
These drugs must be taken exactly as directed. Consult your doctor if you notice that the drugs fail to reduce your symptoms. Do not share these drugs with others because the drug may have a completely different effect on the person for whom it was not prescribed.
Opioid medications increase the effects of alcohol. Anyone taking these drugs are advised to stay away from alcoholic beverages.