May 03, 2012
Patients who are prescribed long-term prescription painkiller treatment programs should be cautious of opioid-induced hyperalgesia. Opioid-induced hyperalgesia is a condition where the increased use of opiates, like Oxycontin and hydrocodone, heightens one's sensitivity to discomfort and reduces their tolerance for pain. Essentially, people will increase the amount of painkillers they are taking as their discomfort continues to escalate, but the added medication can actually make their pain worse.
Opioid-induced hyperalgesia is often times mistaken for a growing tolerance to pain medication, which is why dosages are increased. Unfortunately, increasing the dosage is not only ineffective, but can worsen the hyperalgesia and cause even more pain, creating a dangerous cycle. The most effective and safest way to remedy the condition is to decrease the dose or detox and eliminate the pain medication altogether. While it can be scary for a chronic pain patient to imagine no longer taking medication, we’ve actually seen patients suffering hyperalgesia realize they were pain-free once they relinquished their pills. It’s very important that hyperalgesia be differentiated from chronic pain so doctors are able to properly treat the problem and lessen pain, without causing or escalating physical dependence. Long-term opiate use can hinder or even stop the body's ability to produce natural endorphins, which is why many patients receive relief from pain once their bodies are able to recover this natural function.
If a patient is experiencing tolerance or opioid-induced hyperalgesia, the risk of dependency is very high. Increasing dosage, which many patients do without consulting their physicians, can increase dependency risk and can even lead to overdose or death.
At the Waismann Method Treatment center we take our patients to Domus Retreat after detoxifcation for a better evaluation on their pain level. We begin treatment with non narcotics and provide yoga, acupunture, massage and other forms on therapies that can help with prescription abstinance and pain control.