What is opioids and acute pain?

Opioids and Acute Pain

Opioids and acute pain: How can you work with your doctor?

You are the most important part of your healing. You can work with your doctor to manage your pain safely. For example, you can:

  • Set realistic goals with your doctor for pain control.
  • Ask your doctor about taking non-opioids for pain. These may include acetaminophen or NSAIDs.
  • Try things other than medicine. Examples include massage, physical therapy, heat or cold, and acupuncture.

If you are prescribed an opioid for acute pain, you can expect that your doctor will be careful to help keep you safe. Your doctor may:

  • Prescribe the smallest dose needed to control pain, and for the shortest amount of time possible.
  • Limit the prescription to 3 to 5 days.
  • Require a urine drug test before you start (or while you take) the medicine.
  • Stop the medicine if it's not working as it should.

What are some cautions about opioids for acute pain?

Opioids are strong medicines. There are risks with taking them. They can cause constipation, nausea, and sleepiness. They can also cause more serious problems, such as trouble thinking clearly, higher tolerance to the medicine, and physical dependence. People who take opioids have a greater risk of opioid use disorder, overdose, and even death.

What should you tell your doctor when you're discussing opioids for acute pain?

Tell your doctor about medicines, supplements, and any drugs or alcohol you use. Taking opioids with other substances can cause an overdose. And make sure to tell your doctor if you've ever had problems with alcohol, legal medicines, or illegal drugs. It can increase your risk for more problems.

Why are opioids used for acute pain?

Opioid medicines can treat pain. For acute moderate to severe pain after an injury or a surgery, your doctor may prescribe an opioid to be used for a short time. But opioids can be dangerous. And they may not do a better job of treating pain than non-opioids, like acetaminophen and NSAIDs.

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