Herniated Disc Treatment with Opioids
Stronger opioid pain medications can be helpful for some of your symptoms from a herniated disc. However, they need to be used with care because there are risks associated with this class of drugs.
When other medications have not been helpful, narcotics such as oxycodone or hydrocodone can be used safely and effectively for certain types of pain when prescribed by your doctor.
Narcotics most Effective for Nociceptive Pain
Narcotics are most effective for nociceptive pain, and they are less helpful for neuropathic pain.
A herniated disc will usually cause both nociceptive and neuropathic types of pain.
Two Types of Pain
Nociceptive pain is pain arising from the stimulation of pain receptors such as arthritis pain or pain from an injury.
Neuropathic pain is pain that is coming from within the nerve in itself due to damage or disease.
Back Pain is Often Nociceptive Pain
A herniated disc will often cause back pain that is nociceptive pain and can be treated effectively with narcotics such as hydromorphone or morphine.
If your herniated disc is pressing on nerve this can cause pain that radiates into your buttock or thigh. This radiating pain is neuropathic pain and narcotic preparations are not likely to be very helpful.
For neuropathic pain anti-depressant drugs and anti-seizure medications are often more useful.
Narcotic pain medications can be very effective for relieving pain but there are risks and side effects that must be considered.
The most common risks associated with narcotic pain medications are the risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence.
Addiction occurs when you begin to use medications because they make you feel good rather than to treat pain. When you are taking medications to treat pain you are not addicted.
Taking more than is prescribed.
Abuse can occur when you are using more medication than is prescribed because it makes you feel good or because you are trying to make your pain go away completely.
In most cases 100% relief of your pain is not a realistic expectation. If you are taking your medications the way your doctor prescribed them you are not abusing your medications.
Dependence can be Managed
Dependence is a physical condition where your body becomes accustomed to receiving the drug and if it is suddenly stopped you may experience some withdrawal symptoms. This is a normal physiological response.
Dependence is not commonly a problem for the small doses usually prescribed to treat the acute pain of a herniated disc.
If you find yourself on larger doses your doctor can help you taper down gradually and minimize any withdrawal symptoms you may experience.