What You Need to Know About the Side Effects of Painkillers


Farshad Ahadian, MD

Was this helpful? (469)
woman with cramps

The last decade, from 2000 to 2010, was referred to as the “Decade of Pain” in the medical field. Pain was considered the fifth vital sign—a measure of health as important as heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature. There was a big push to prescribe pain medications to patients. And prescriptions for opioid pain relievers skyrocketed.

Opioids, also known as narcotics, have been around for thousands of years. Originally they were compounds derived from the opium poppy. Now, of course, there is a wide range of naturally occurring and synthetic opioids available, all manufactured using modern methods. 

It’s not something anyone wants to talk about, but constipation is a common—and painful—side effect of opioid medications. Patients Paul and Sam explain what it’s like to suffer in silence, and how talking to their doctors about solutions helped them find some balance.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Jul 18, 2016

2018 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.