Why painkillers can sometimes increase chronic pain

Why painkillers can sometimes increase chronic pain louisiana pain specialist

Opioid addiction is an epidemic in the United States, having killed an estimated 14,000 people in 2014 alone.

It’s a crisis so severe that doctors and pharmacists are constantly raising the standards on which patients can receive opioid medications. They are also heavily regulating how much medication you can be prescribed and for how long.

Aside from the deadly opioid addiction problem, there’s another reason doctors are turning away from painkillers for their patients with chronic pain: Over time, using opioids to treat pain will actually make the pain worse.

How do painkillers make pain worse?

Painkiller addiction is a disease that ultimately changes your brain chemistry.

Painkillers include the following, and more:

  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycontin
  • Percocet
  • Vicodin
  • Norco
  • Morphine

If you take prescription painkillers or heroin for more than two-to-four weeks, you will most likely build a tolerance to the medication. Once you increase your tolerance, you will need more and more of the drug to feel the same effect as you did when you first started taking it.

What also happens when you continue to increase your dosage is you will increase your sensitivity to pain, also known as hyperalgesia. Why? Because painkillers, over time, will cause a decline in your body being able to tolerate pain. You might even find that you will continue to have pain long after your original injury that was causing you pain has healed.

“An opioid sets off a chain of immune signals in the spinal cord that amplifies pain rather than dulling it, even after the drug leaves the body,” researchers said.

You can solve this problem most of the time by not taking painkillers anymore, but that’s a lot easier said than done. You will likely have to go through a detox program and a subsequent treatment program, sometimes even an inpatient medical facility.

How can I manage pain without painkillers?

Here are a few ways to manage chronic pain without the use of pain medication:

  • Exercise – Regular exercise will help with your range of motion, and it will release endorphins, which make you feel better.
  • Cognitive therapy – Seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist to work with you on how to cope with the pain.
  • Relaxation, meditation, or yoga if your chronic pain allows. Try to find ways to reduce stress in your life.
  • Massage therapy
  • Hot or cold topical ointments or creams
  • Cut back on alcohol, and quit smoking.

If you have chronic pain and are looking for a way to manage it without opioids or prescription painkillers, contact Louisiana Pain Specialists today.

 

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