What You Should Know about Chronic Pain Management

What You Should Know about Chronic Pain Management Chronic pain management is a risky business. Healthcare providers use powerful drugs like fentanyl to control chronic pain and increase your quality of life, but administering these drugs in proper doses requires precise balance. In addition to dosage, healthcare providers have to take the potential risks of long-term treatment into account.

What are the dangers associated with the fentanyl patch?

The Mayo Clinic tells us, “The fentanyl skin patch (transdermal) is used to treat severe pain. It may be applied in a hospital setting after surgery or at home for severe chronic pain when around-the-clock pain relief is needed for a long period of time. Fentanyl is a narcotic analgesic (pain medicine). It acts on the central nervous system (CNS) to relieve pain.”

While fentanyl can be a boon for chronic pain sufferers, it carries serious risks. The compound is approximately 80 times more potent than morphine, and is a Schedule II controlled substance because of its potential for abuse as an opioid. Fentanyl patches are designed for controlled absorption; any damage to the patch can lead to direct exposure to fentanyl gel. Direct exposure leads to rapid absorption and can quickly cause an overdose and death.

Fentanyl can cause severe side effects even when the drug is administered properly. Minor side effects often go away when your body acclimates to the drug, but you should discuss any side effects with your healthcare provider immediately. Seek emergency treatment immediately if you experience:

  • Slow heart rate, sighing, weak or shallow breathing (up to several days after removing the skin patch)
  • Chest pain, fast or pounding heartbeats
  • Extreme drowsiness or dizziness
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation

The side effects of the drug aren’t limited to physical changes. Confusion and other cognitive changes are often a side effect of opioid pain medications. Additionally, long-term use may lead to drug tolerance, increased pain sensitivity, and addiction. While no solid numbers exist, Drugabuse.gov says, “Estimates of addiction among chronic pain patients vary widely from about 3 percent to 40 percent.” The variability reflects the lack of knowledge about this situation, though drug addiction and dependence can result from long-term use.

Fentanyl is dangerous for another reason; chronic pain management is primarily used for senior citizens. Seniors may be unable to communicate properly about their treatment, a problem further complicated by the confusion associated with this powerful drug. If you or a loved one is prescribed fentanyl for chronic pain management, communication is of the utmost importance. Talk to your doctor if you are confused or uncomfortable; the dangers of fentanyl are real and immediate.

If you or a loved one has suffered addiction or other consequences of long-term chronic pain management, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced and compassionate South Carolina defective drug attorneys at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips LLC can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you deserve. We serve all of South Carolina; contact us today for a free consultation.