August 23, 2017

Opiate Induced Pain

[frame align=”left”]Opiate Induced Pain[/frame]When it comes to prescription medications that contain opiates, as well as other opiate street drugs, there is a double-edged sword that comes with the relief these drugs provide. On one side of the sword is the swift and often euphoric relief of symptoms. In the case of someone who has suffered an injury or other long-term pain condition, the relief from the pain is initially quite profound. For the social user or addict, the relief comes more from the euphoria itself in that the drugs alleviate the emotional pain in their lives. Either way, the effects can be very powerful.

On the other side of the sword lies the issue of opiate induced pain. Opiate Induced Pain known scientifically as hyperalgesia. Hyperalgesia literally means “more pain”. It is quite common in those treated for chronic pain conditions such as chronic back pain, arthritis and other conditions that seemingly require long-term pain management.

There are two types of Opiate Induced Pain. One is immediate, while the other may be gradual. Neither one is psychosomatic. They are both very real pains with very real causes.

Rebound Pain

When an individual takes excessive doses of a narcotic painkiller, an opiate specifically, they experience a huge shift euphorically. Either their pain goes away or they may still be in pain, but they no longer care. The body becomes drowsy and goes to sleep. By going to sleep, the abuser “believes” the pain is not only reduced but also eliminated. Actually though they feel like this because of being in a drug-induced sleep.

Rebound pain occurs when the opiates begin to wear off, or metabolize out of the system. The individual is now very conscious of the pain they are experiencing, the drugs are wearing off and the body does not want to be in pain anymore. This sparks the rebound pain to such a degree that the individual may immediately take another large dose of the prescribed opiates.

Typical Hyperalgesia

This more gradual kind of opiate induced pain comes over a period of months or years in conjunction with the body’s ability to gain tolerance for a specific opiate. The longer an individual takes the medication, the more pain they find themselves. They believe their condition is getting worse, requiring an increase in their pain medications in frequency, dosages, or both. Because it is so gradual, even medical professionals sometimes miss the symptoms. After all, their patient may be the president of the PTA, a grandmother who simply wants to knit more blankets for her grandchildren, or a father who desperately needs to earn a living to support his family. These are not “drug users” who break into homes to steal painkillers or other drugs. It is so easy for medical professionals to over-prescribe the drugs that some states have begun a regulatory program at the point of origin: policing the doctors and making them accountable for the prescriptions they write.

In the meantime, the individual patient can be developing a serious addiction to opiates without even realizing it.

How To Determine If Someone is Having Opiate Induced Pain

This is a very tricky question, because pain is pain. Opiate induced pain is just as real as the pain of a broken bone or a chronic back pain issue. The question that one should ask is this: Is this individual addicted to their pain medication?

The best way to determine whether someone’s pain is induced by the opiates or caused by some other genesis, there is only one solution. Remove opiates from the equation. Chances are, if an individual has been taking opiates for pain for a long period of time, they have developed a tolerance, and they have become dependent. This is simply physical fact. While there is a fine line dividing physical dependency and full-blown addiction, for the purposes of determining whether pain is induced by opiate dependency and tolerance, they are very much the same.

The withdrawal period when an individual stops taking opiates can be agonizing; however, it is not medically dangerous. The best plan would be to seek medical advice from a professional who can prescribe non-narcotic aids to help with the process. It is not possible to determine the level of actual condition-specific pain a person has until the opiates are completely out of the system. How long this takes depends upon the individual and the dosages and tolerance they have developed.

In many cases of long-term opiate use, the opiate induced pain is significantly more than the actual pain the individual must deal with on a daily basis.

The Next Step

If an individual has decided not to take opiates due to opiate induced pain, they should have a conversation with their doctor about the medical options open to them. Perhaps non-addictive anti-inflammatory medications can help ease the cause of the pain they are experiencing. The choice is ultimately up to the individual and their doctor. Whatever decision they make for their ongoing care, they will not have to deal with the excruciating opiate induced pain they have experienced.