Chronic pain and safe pain management

About 50 million adults in the United States have chronic pain, which is one of the most common reasons adults seek medical care.

woman rubbing her hands

Chronic pain can be caused by:

  • Chronic conditions (such as arthritis and diabetes)
  • Autoimmune disorders (like lupus and Lyme disease)
  • Past injuries

Unfortunately, some people experience chronic pain without evidence of an underlying cause.

As you can imagine, when people have pain throughout the day, every day, it’s hard to enjoy life as usual. They may try all sorts of treatments before relying on medications. Though the relief is great, medications can be dangerous when used for long periods of time, resulting in addiction or overdose. That is why we encourage you to talk to your doctor about managing chronic pain.

You and your doctor both play a role in finding the best way to manage your pain.

Doctors prescribe opioids to treat moderate to severe pain. If you’ve ever had a surgery or severe injury, your doctor may have prescribed them.

They include:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • And more

Even when taking opioid medication as directed, some patients may experience negative side effects.

They may include:

  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Itching and sweating
  • Nausea, vomiting, and dry mouth
  • Physical dependence — meaning you have symptoms of withdrawal when a medication is stopped
  • Sleepiness and dizziness
  • Tolerance — meaning you might need to take more of a medication than originally prescribed for the same pain relief

These risks are important to keep track of and to discuss with your healthcare provider. It’s best to revisit your pain management options frequently to make sure you are getting the safest, most effective care.

Remember: a simple conversation with your doctor can help prevent opioid addiction and overdose.


Source: “Managing Chronic Pain | Self-Management Education Programs | Learn More. Feel Better. | CDC.” CDC.Gov, www.cdc.gov/learnmorefeelbetter/programs/chronic-pain.htm.

The information provided is meant for a general audience. Capital BlueCross and its affiliated companies believe this health education resource provides useful information but does not assume any liability associated with its use.