Are you trading your body pain for stomach problems? Many people manage their chronic pain with the use of opioids or NSAIDs (ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain relievers). While patients may experience a reduction in their pain, it often comes with gastrointestinal consequences. Patients may suffer from constipation, heartburn, diarrhea and other stomach problems as a result of this pain management regime. Is there a way to effectively relieve your pain without disturbing your gut?
At Allied Pain & Spine Institute, we are keenly aware of the gastro upsets that patients face as a result of taking pharmacological agents such as opioids or NSAIDs. Dr. Petros weighs in on the topic below.
It is important that we weigh the side effects of pain relief treatment with each individual patient. We know that NSAIDs can irritate the stomach lining (gastritis), cause heartburn and increase the risk of GI bleeding. The risk factors greatly increase with prolonged, everyday use.
Therefore, our clinic works hard to minimize these stomach side effects by:
- limiting administration to a minimal effective dose
- having patients take NSAIDs with food
- co-administering with another agent (e.g. Protonix) to help protect the stomach lining
The primary gastric problem associated with taking opioids relates to constipation. Opioids can cause constipation in a few different ways. First, opioids can actually slow down the movement of food and stools in your digestive tract. These types of prescription pain killers can also impair one’s ability to feel the sensation or urge to defecate. Opioids can also reduce the number of digestive secretions, and some types may even be able to partially paralyze the stomach (gastroparesis).
To prevent opioid-induced constipation, we consider the following:
- Limit opioid use to the most minimal effective dose
- Use adjunct/alternative methods of treating pain if possible
- Treat constipation with specific agents that act as laxatives and promote gut motility (e.g. Colace and Senna)
At Allied Pain & Spine Institute, we are proud of our ability to help patients manage their pain through a wide variety of treatment modalities. If you continue to struggle with gastric issues despite the above-mentioned measures, we can offer an alternative to taking NSAIDs or opioids for your pain. We believe in helping patients live their most comfortable and active life possible – which means we carefully consider the side effects of certain pain management strategies as it relates to your overall well-being.
Posted on behalf of Dr. James Petros, Allied Pain & Spine Institute