• Glenn MacNichol, MD

Role of Narcotics in Pain Management

What is Narcotics?

Narcotics are a class of drugs used to treat pain and dull the physical senses. You may be given a narcotic class drug to treat your pain after you sustain an injury or have surgery. Narcotics are also given preoperatively to relieve anxiety and induce anesthesia. Originally, narcotics were all derived from the opium poppy but many of today’s narcotics are actually synthetically created in a medical laboratory.


Narcotics | Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

Role of Narcotics

For many years, narcotics have been used for their analgesic purposes to ease pain and promote a calming effect. Narcotics work by anesthetizing the parts of the central nervous system where the pain originates.


Narcotics are available in the following forms:

  • Tablets

  • Capsules

  • Chewable tablets

  • Powders

  • Solutions

  • Emulsions

  • Suspensions

  • Lotions

  • Creams

  • Ointments

  • Effervescent granules

  • Aerosols

  • Gases

  • Suppositories

  • Injections


Downsides of Narcotics

Narcotics are some of the most powerful painkillers available, however, long-term use of narcotics can potentially lead to drug addiction and/or drug tolerance, which requires you to take a higher dosage of a drug in order to experience the same effect that a lower dosage had previously.


To effectively manage your pain, your surgeon will consider several factors that are unique to you and your situation. Narcotics are one form of pain medication that is used for postoperative pain management and for fracture under physician assistance.


Regulations

It is illegal for me or any physician to write somebody a prescription for a narcotic drug without checking the state and national records, to see that you did not get a prescription recently from another doctor.


In Carolina Regional Orthopaedics, we always review the patients’ 12-month history in North Carolina’s Controlled Substances Reporting System (NC CSRS) prior to prescribing any narcotic medication. Appropriate counseling will be delivered to the patients pursuant to their pending narcotic consumption.


Takeaway

Narcotics play a vital role in Pain Management and although there are adverse effects associated with the use of narcotics, if used with caution, it can be an effective tool in pain management.


Do I avoid prescribing narcotics entirely?

No!


Because there are some conditions for which alternative treatments do not work and we do have to rely on narcotics in the way of managing the pain. The concept of pain management is so much more than throwing a pill at it. So, listening to your physician's advice would be a wise choice.


Carolina Regional Orthopaedics

Carolina Regional Orthopaedics provides the most effective, modern, and innovative techniques in both Orthopedic Surgery and Pain Management using proven methodologies in both the surgical and non-surgical treatment of all conditions affecting the spine, upper extremities, and lower extremities. We specialize in hand and wrist surgery, joint replacements, sports medicine, trauma care, pediatric orthopedics, pain management, wound care, regenerative medicine, physical therapy, imaging services, and EMG testing.

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