The treatment of chronic pain should take advantage of various modalities, which may include consultations with pain specialists, medications, procedures, and imaging studies. Medications, the most efficacious avenue, are the cornerstone of any chronic pain management program. Medications target mediators of inflammation, as well as blockade pain receptors in the nervous system. The most effective class of drugs targeting the mechanisms mentioned are opioid analgesics.
Opioid analgesics are strong blockers of painful stimuli, whether acute or chronic. They are not used without peril or adverse effects, however. Opioid medications are subject to rampant abuse and risks of death. Although these are concerns, correct and responsible use of opioid agents can provide extraordinary analgesia (pain relief) and may improve bodily function. The remainder of this discussion focuses on the management of chronic pain with long-term prescription of opioids, including methods, benefits, and hazards.