Published on October 09, 2017

The right help for persistent pain

You’re in lingering pain—maybe from a bum knee, a sore back or a hip with arthritis. And you want one thing: to feel like yourself again.

Your doctor wants that too. Even so, he or she may advise against taking a prescription opioid drug like oxycodone.

Yes, these drugs can help with some types of pain, such as cancer pain, in the short term. “But they also come with serious risks, including addiction,” warns Ruth Martynowicz, Vice President of Operations at St. Mary Home Care.

That’s why your doctor may suggest other ways, besides taking an opioid, to ease your pain. For example, pain relievers such as acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) or ibuprofen (brand name Advil) might help. So might steroid shots, physical therapy or exercise.

If your doctor does prescribe an opioid drug, you should:

Be frank. Tell your doctor if you’ve misused—or have been addicted to— alcohol or other drugs. If so, taking opioids could be very risky for you.

Speak up. Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take. Some aren’t safe to use with opioids.

Take the opioid exactly as prescribed. Don’t take an extra or higher dose, even if you still hurt. Talk to your doctor instead. And don’t drink alcohol while you’re on an opioid.

Keep others safe too. Never share an opioid with friends or family. And keep the drug out of the sight— and reach—of curious kids. You might even store the opioid in a lockbox.