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Today, it is not uncommon to be prescribed pain medications by your doctor. While they can be a powerful source of relief, drugs are not the only treatment option for those suffering from chronic pain. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether or not to include drugs in your pain management plan.A picture of pills

1. Addiction

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers—also called opioid pain relievers.”1 Opioids are often prescribed for conditions such as chronic low back pain, accident trauma, arthritis and fibromyalgia.3

2. Potential side effects

Painkillers can cause constipation, nausea, drowsiness, respiratory depression, confusion and pruritus (widespread itching).2,5

 

Studies also suggest that there is a link between sexual dysfunction and opioids, which can lower testosterone levels and lead to erectile dysfunction in men. They may also contribute to low libido and difficulty with orgasm in both men and women.4

3. A temporary solution

According to, chronic pain sufferers can “…become desensitized to the drugs, so they need higher and higher doses to combat the same amount of pain.”2 As a result, over time the drugs may lose their ability to mask the patient’s pain.

 

4. Neglecting the root cause of pain

Painkillers can mask pain but often fail to treat its root cause, which may be structural or mechanical. Examples include tightness of tissues and asymmetry of structures.

Learn about treating chronic pain without drugs.

References

1. http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/rxbrief/index.html

2. http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/07/14/ep.drugs.pain.cohen/index.html

3. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/overcoming-pain/200904/opioid-prescribing-guidelines-chronic-pain

4. http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20189376,00.html

5. http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20401237,00.html