What do you do when the medicine your doctor is prescribing is actually causing you more pain than it is relieving? Codeine is a commonly-prescribed opioid medication that is used as a morphine alternative because it is less powerful and has a lower risk of addiction and overdose. However, researchers at the University of Adelaide have shown that the pain medication may actually make headaches and other pain worse in the long run.
A Problem for All Opioid Drugs
Codeine is not alone–all opioid drugs can lead to increased pain when used as a treatment for chronic pain. This is due to a twofold mechanism in the body’s response to opioid drugs. First, the opioid drug receptors become less sensitive to the chemicals. This is called opioid tolerance, and it’s why opium, heroin, and morphine addicts keep needing larger doses to get high and will often ultimately overdose.
However, there’s also another mechanism, called hyperalgesia, in which opioids actually make your body more sensitive to pain. Apparently, opioids cause your body to rewire its pain-sensing circuitry, which leads to you becoming not only more sensitive to your original pain, but also more sensitive to new pain and may lead your body to essentially manufacture new pains.
The Problem with Codeine
Although codeine is less effective than morphine as a painkiller and less addictive, it works in the same way because the body is actually converting codeine into morphine. About 10% of the codeine is converted to morphine, which then provides the pain relief.
However, as the University of Adelaide study shows, codeine still results in 100% of the same increased pain sensitivity as morphine. This leads to a losing cycle for many people taking codeine: their pain is increasing faster than their pain relief can cover, especially since it’s losing effectiveness.
Trying to Treat Chronic Pain without Medication
There are too many opioid painkillers being prescribed today. There has been a dramatic increase in opioid prescriptions, and now opioid painkillers are the most commonly prescribed medications in the US.
If you suffer from chronic headaches, jaw pain, neck pain, or back pain, you may be able to get relief without relying on ineffective drugs like codeine.
TMJ, also called temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD, is an underdiagnosed condition that can cause many types of chronic pain, including headaches and backaches. Drug-free TMJ treatment can help you see a reduction in and sometimes an elimination of these types of chronic pain.
To learn how TMJ treatment may be able to affect your chronic pain, please call (303) 691-0267 at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver today.