Patient Information Resources

Centre for Orthopaedics
Suite 10-33/34/35 Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore, 329563, Singapore
Ph: (65) 6684 5828
Fax: (65) 6684 5829

Child Orthopedics
Pain Management
Spine - Cervical
Spine - General
Spine - Lumbar
Spine - Thoracic

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My doctor has advised that I try taking an opioid medication to help get control of my chronic low back pain. I'm more than a little nervous about getting addicted. What's the longest time I can take these pills without getting into trouble?

Opioids are substances that act like morphine in the body. They improve mood while reducing pain. When used over time, they can become addictive. Everyone has a slightly different tolerance level for medications of this type.

You are in the danger zone if you find yourself needing more and more of the drug to get the same amount of pain relief. Or you may notice the effects wear off sooner and sooner after taking a pill. These are signs of drug dependence.

You may not be addicted but you may need to taper off the drug and try some other ways to manage the pain. If you have withdrawal symptoms, then you may have developed an addiction to the drug.

Newer studies show that opioids may be helpful in the short-run but aren't effective for long-term use. They define short-term use as being up to 16 weeks. If you decide to try this form of treatment, work closely with your doctor to avoid problems of this type.


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