Opioid Use After Spine Surgery

Pain after a spine surgery is normal and expected. Often times, spine surgeons suggest the use of opioids to treat post spine surgery pain. If you are afraid to take opioids because you don’t want to become addicted or for other reasons, understand that managing pain is essential for a successful spine surgery recovery as untreated pain can lead to delayed recovery times and chronic pain. Let’s take a closer look at opioid use after spine surgery.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are powerful pain medications that alter the way pain is perceived. They attach onto molecules known as opioid receptors and send messages to the brain that are inaccurate measures of the severity of the pain that the body is actually experiencing. Their purpose is to diminish the perception of pain and help patients experience less pain. Some examples of the most common opioids include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Oxycodone with acetaminophen
  • Morphine
  • Fentanyl.

Side Effects of Opioids

The powerful effect of opioids make them a good option for patients who have just undergone spine surgery and need to manage their pain. However, although opioids are effective, they do come with significant side effects. Nausea, drowsiness, constipation, vomiting, urinary retention, and impaired thinking skills are all side effects of opioids.

If your surgeon prescribes opioids and you experience side effects, you should let them know. A different type of pain medication or dose may reduce uncomfortable side effects and make post-surgery life easier for you.

Avoiding Opioid Addiction

Even though opioid use after surgery is a short term method to relieve pain while your body heals, addiction is still a concern. Fortunately, there are many strategies that can help you as well as others avoid opioid addiction if your surgeon decides that opioid use after spine surgery is right for you. Some of these strategies include:

  •         Taking your medication as your surgeon directed
  •         Not taking other drugs that your surgeon told you to stay away from while taking opioids
  •         Refraining from drinking alcohol while taking opioids
  •         Storing opioids safely
  •         Never sharing opioids with others
  •         Disposing of unused opioids

Contact Pacific Spine Specialists Today

If you are considering spine surgery or you have any questions regarding opioid use after spine surgery, do not hesitate to contact Pacific Spine Specialists today at 503-885-9391. In the event that you do need spine surgery, we’ll let you know if opioids are right for you.