Contributor: Victoria Pearson
Pharmacological medications are the most common form of pain management treatment for chronic pain. Of those, analgesics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have the highest prevalence.
- Analgesics are commonly known as “pain medications.” The classification encompasses both OTC acetaminophen and aspirin, as well the full gamut of prescription opioids such as codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, and fentanyl.
- NSAIDs include OTC ibuprofen, ketoprofen, and naproxen, as well as COX-2 inhibitors that are available only by prescription.
While pain medication is offered as a viable pain management treatment for many, it presents possible complications which require a patient’s thoughtful consideration. Our Pain Relief Centers’ specialists know that better-informed patients translate to improved treatment outcomes. Patients should know that prior to choosing any treatment option, it is worth exploring both the advantages and drawbacks.
When examining prescription pain medicine, we urge patients to take into consideration the following:
Physical Side Effects
Individuals who take more than the physician recommended dose of NSAIDs may suffer unpleasant side effects. Of those, the most common include:
- stomach pain
- increased blood pressure
- kidney problems
Additionally, the use of NSAIDs is associated with increased risks of future cardiovascular pathology, including heart attack and stroke. Furthermore, the pain medications themselves can have harmful interactions if taken simultaneously with medications used to treat heart disease. In some cases, individuals who take even their prescribed dosage may experience some of these symptoms. As a result, they inhibit their ability to reach a dosage that adequately treats their pain.1
For individuals taking prescription opioids, side effects can include dizziness, nausea and vomiting, gastrointestinal issues, cardiovascular issues, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, mental cloudiness, unclear thinking and mood changes. An added disadvantage is that while taking these medications, individuals may be incapable of, or legally prohibited from performing certain functions, such as driving a car. In some cases, opioids can cause a condition called hyperalgesia. Opioid-induced hyperalgesia causes a patient’s pain receptors to become more sensitive to certain pain responses — heightening their pain sensitivity. This can result in an individual beginning to experience pain in new locations of undamaged tissue. Often, this does not subside even after the patient stops taking the medication and requires further treatment.
Pain is not simply a sensory experience — it affects multiple aspects of sufferers’ lives, including personal relationships, mood, and ability to work. Pain isn’t one-dimensional, and its treatment shouldn’t be treated as such.
The goal of a pain management treatment should always be to restore patients to as productive a life as possible. Pain Relief Centers encourages patients to educate themselves about treatments and always consult with a medical professional. Believe in a future with less pain, and see how our back and neck profiler can help you take those first steps.