Pain Management And Opioids
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
An opioid, or narcotic, is a type of medicine used to treat pain. Opioid medicines stop nerves from sending and receiving feelings of pain. Examples of opioids are morphine, hydrocodone, codeine, fentanyl, and oxycodone.
Take your medicine as directed:
Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or pain specialist as directed:
You may need to return to have your dose adjusted or your medicine changed. You may need blood or urine tests to make sure you are getting the right amount of medicine. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
While you use opioids:
- Take your medicine as directed: Ask if you need more information on how to take your medicine correctly.
- Keep opioid medicine in a safe place: Opioid medicines are dangerous for children. Store your opioid medicine in a locked cabinet to keep it away from children and prevent others from using it.
- Do not drink alcohol: This can make you sleepy and slow your breathing rate, or cause you to stop breathing.
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Do not use an opioid medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, unless your primary healthcare provider says it is okay. You and your unborn baby will need special care if you use an opioid medicine during pregnancy.
Other ways to manage pain:
- Heat: Heat helps decrease pain and muscle spasms. Apply heat to the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed.
- Ice: Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on the area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can teach you exercises to help improve movement and strength, and to decrease pain.
- Counseling and cognitive-behavioral therapy: It may help to talk to a therapist about things that cause or increase your pain.
Contact your primary healthcare provider or pain specialist if:
- Your pain does not get better, or you have new pain.
- You cannot do your usual activities because of side effects from the opioid.
- You are constipated and have abdominal pain.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You are so sleepy that you cannot stay awake.
- You are too dizzy or weak to stand up.
- You have trouble breathing, shallow breathing, or are breathing slower than normal.
- You have severe muscle pain or weakness.
- You are very confused.
- You see or hear things that are not real.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.