Pain medicines

Medicines people take when they have persistent pain are often referred to as ‘painkillers’.

That might make you think that if you take them, the pain will go away.
 But we now know that in the long term only about 40 percent of people feel any benefit.

Some pain medicines – opioids especially – can even make pain worse.

So how do you find out if your medicines are really helping? Or whether some of the difficulties you’re having are actually side effects of the medicines themselves?

Life After Opioids

After more than a decade and half of trying – unsuccessfully – to deal with her fibromyalgia through opioids, Louise finally decided that one way or another, she was going to have to manage her pain another way . . .

(duration: 23 minutes)

Common side effects of opioids

Opioids (‘strong painkillers’) can be really useful for a short time – after an injury or surgery. But longer term they aren’t much help. They only reduce pain for about 10 percent of people in the long term.
This means that 9 out of 10 people get no benefit long term. And they’ll still get the side effects.
If you decide you want to reduce your medicines, then always talk to your healthcare team first – your pharmacist, nurse or general practitioner. They can help you develop a plan to make small, careful changes that are less likely to result in withdrawal.
The most important thing to remember is: never stop taking medicines suddenly.
  • Feeling dizzy, sickness
  • Sweating
  • Confused, sleepy
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Dry mouth
  • Increased levels of pain
  • Sleep problems
  • Reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction, infertility
  • Unable to pass urine
  • Immune system affected
  • Forget things / memory loss
  • Euphoria (feeling high)
  • Mood changes
  • Emotionally numb
  • Risk of falls and fractures

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