Pain Management And Opioids
What do I need to know about opioids?
Pain Management And Opioids Care Guide
- Pain Management And Opioids
- Pain Management And Opioids Aftercare Instructions
- Pain Management And Opioids Discharge Care
- En Espanol
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.
Why is pain control important?
Pain can cause changes in your physical and emotional health, such as depression and sleep problems. Pain control and management may help improve your mood, ability to sleep, and ability to do daily activities.
What types of opioids are there?
Opioids can be given as a pill, patch, or suppository. They can also be given as an injection into a vein or the area around your spinal cord. There are 2 types:
- Short-acting: These begin to work faster, and relieve pain for about 3 to 6 hours. Short-acting medicines are often used for acute pain and breakthrough pain.
- Long-acting: These usually last 8 hours or more, so you can take them less often. These medicines take longer to start relieving pain.
What are the risks of using opioids for pain management?
- Overdose: Taking too much of an opioid medicine can be life-threatening. The following are signs of an overdose:
- Sleepiness or confusion
- Dizziness or weakness
- Difficulty breathing, shallow breathing, or you stop breathing
- Cold or clammy skin
- Severe muscle pain or weakness
- Seeing or hearing things that are not real
- Sleepiness or confusion
- Physical dependence: This is when your body needs the medicine in order to work properly. Symptoms of physical dependence include shaking, diarrhea, and runny nose when the medicine is stopped.
- Tolerance: This happens when your body gets used to the medicine. The opioid might not control your pain as well as it used to. The pain may come back sooner. You might need more of the opioid medicine to give you the same amount of pain relief.
- Addiction and abuse: Addiction happens when you use an opioid even though it harms you and does not relieve the pain. If you have abused alcohol or drugs in the past, an addiction specialist can help you manage the use of opioids to relieve your pain.
What are the side effects of using opioids for pain management?
Side effects can limit how much medicine you can take. The best treatment is to find the dose that treats the pain and causes the fewest side effects. Some side effects may go away after you have been taking the medicine for awhile. Common side effects include the following:
- Constipation, nausea, or vomiting
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or sleepiness
- Dry mouth
- Trouble thinking, moving slower than normal, clumsiness
- Trouble breathing or slow, shallow breathing
What else can I do 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.
- Other medicine: Medicine that is used to treat anxiety, depression, or seizures may be used with opioid medicine to decrease pain.
- Counseling and cognitive-behavioral therapy: It may help to talk to a therapist about things that cause or increase your pain.
What else should I know about opioids?
- Take your medicine as directed: Ask if you need more information on how to take your medicine correctly.
- Tell your caregiver about all medicines you take: Give your caregiver a list of all your medicines, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor if you also use sleeping pills, cold and allergy medicine, and sedatives. It can be dangerous to take opioids with these other medicines. Tell your caregiver if you have used opioids in the past.
- 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.
- Follow up with your caregiver regularly: This will help your caregiver find the best treatment plan to manage your pain. He may adjust your dose or change medications to control your pain with the fewest side effects.
- Do not drink alcohol while you use opioids: 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 caregiver says it is okay. You and your unborn baby will need special care if you use an opioid medicine during pregnancy.
When should I contact my caregiver?
Contact your caregiver 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.
When should I seek immediate care?
Seek care immediately or call 911 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.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
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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.