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Pain and Debilitating Conditions

Narcotics (Opioids)/Analgesics

In pharmacologic pain management, narcotics (opioids) and analgesics may be prescribed to treat acute pain (severe, short-lived pain), post-operative pain, and certain types of chronic pain. Pain management physicians will help you determine if pharmacologic (medical) pain management is the right course of action in helping you find pain relief and regain control over your quality of life. There are a variety of narcotics and analgesics available for pain treatment. Based on the type and severity of your pain, your physician will establish the prescription and method of application after evaluation and during consultation. Listed below are possible methods of administering narcotic/analgesic medications:

  • Hypodermically by way of a needle injection
  • Intravenously with a catheter inserted into a vein
  • Orally in the form of a capsule, syrup, or tablet
  • Transdermally through a patch
  • Topically as a cream
  • Rectally via a suppository

Narcotics and analgesics work to relieve pain by interfering and stopping the transmission of pain messages to the brain, and by altering the sensation of pain. Rather than eliminating pain, these medications reduce and alter the patient’s perception of pain. Just like other forms of pain management, pharmacological treatments, such as narcotic and analgesic medications, come with their fair share of risks and side effects. These drugs may become habit-forming (causing mental or physical dependence), and chronic use may result in a tolerance to the drug in which higher doses are needed to obtain the same initial pain relief. Patients should be aware of the possible side effects from a single drug taken as well as the dangers of combining different medications.

Rules of narcotic/analgesic prescription have emerged out of a national addiction epidemic. Both patients and physicians must comply with regulatory prescription guidelines in order for this type of pain management treatment to be safe and effective. If you are prescribed narcotics or analgesics for pain, it is important that you follow your doctor’s orders regarding dosing or the directions on the label.