Opioids and Chronic Pain
Because opiates can effectively treat chronic pain, they are often prescribed to the individual who has that condition. Chronic pain is a widespread condition that affects about 116 million people across the country. Because the cause of the pain might be difficult to diagnose, the doctors are struggling to find effective long-term relief for patients who deal with pain.
While the doctor is looking for the cause of the pain, the symptoms of chronic pain must be treated. Often, that is by prescribing an opioid. Opioids do have the potential to be addictive, and some people who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain treatment do become addicted.
Common Causes of Chronic Pain
There are several different causes of chronic pain, some of the more common causes of chronic pain include:
- Congenital deformities, such as spine and back deformities that cannot be corrected surgically
- Altered nervous systems that get pain signals even if there is no pain source or injury
- Chronic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, that as part of the diagnosis have pain as a symptom
- Acute illness, such as a complicated infection that requires different treatments
- Injuries, such as a sprained ankle or broken elbow that causes pain and requires an extended recovery
Chronic pain might not always be diagnosed, which could leave doctors wondering what is causing the pain. The doctors are left finding ways to treat the pain as a symptom rather than determining the root of the problem. Some individuals must implement pain treatment strategies on a long-term basis.
The Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is exhausting physically and emotionally. It can range from mild to excruciating, be intermittent or constant, or range from just inconvenient to debilitating. It can range from aches to shooting pains to electrical surges to burning sensations. Underlying symptoms might include tightness, soreness, and stiffness. There are several common ways that chronic pain might be experienced. Those ways include:
- Pelvic pain
- Joint pain
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Shoulder problems
- Sinus pain
- Pelvic problems
- Nerve pain
- Muscle pain
- Pain following an injury
About one out of every four people will suffer from chronic pain at some time during their lives. If the condition worsens or continues over a long timeframe, the patient could fall into a deep depression or experience anxiety. The overload of emotions could affect the amount of the brain’s natural painkillers, such as dopamine, oxycontin, and serotonin. Because of the decreased chemical levels, there will be more intense flare-ups of pain. Some researchers believe the immune system is weakened by chronic pain, making matters worse for the patient.
Common chronic pain symptoms include:
- Problems sleeping
- Greater need for rest following regular activities
- Inability to participate in some activities
- Mood swings
- Anxiety and depression
- Weakened immune system causing more infections and illnesses
- Decreased appetite
Pain varies from one person to another and has different intensity levels. The most important thing for people to realize is the need to get control of the pain. Physicians usually prescribe medications to help manage and reduce pain.
Commonly prescribed medications for chronic pain treatment:
- Prescription pain medications – usually opioids that are hydrocodone-based or oxycodone-based.
- Antidepressants – these drugs increase the availability of neurotransmitters in the body.
- Over-the-counter painkillers – ibuprofen, NSAIDs, acetaminophen, aspirin, and naproxen might be advised in specific doses, but long-term use might cause liver damage or other problems.
- Anticonvulsants – these drugs, such as gabapentin or pregabalin, are normally prescribed to patients with epilepsy, but they can help with chronic pain.
Avoiding Addiction Because of Chronic Pain
The body has a natural response to opioids, which can help an individual find themselves in a situation where prescriptions are being misused. To avoid this situation, try other treatment options for pain.
If prescribed drugs, be honest with the physician about the effectiveness. If the drugs aren’t effective, leave the dosage amounts up to the physician. The doctor might even change your prescription. If you start adjusting your dosage on your own, you are abusing drugs and heading toward addiction.
Those who are suffering from the abuse of pain medications for chronic pain have numerous treatment options available. There are both inpatient and outpatient treatment options that have specialized training in helping those who have chronic pain overcome their addiction to opioids.
Opioid addiction requires professional help, and since you have chronic pain, the process can be more challenging. Seek out guidance from a well-trained staff that will ensure all your medical needs are properly addressed throughout the addiction treatment process.