Medication safety is critical, especially when it comes to pain management. Sometimes when patients work with more than one doctor, they are prescribed high-risk pain medication combinations, leading to severe health concerns. To reduce your risk of having a high-risk mixture, always tell your doctor what medications you’re taking, and educate yourself about some risker combinations.

Opioids and Benzodiazepine

Doctors prescribe opioids to treat chronic or severe pain. Opioids attach to opioid receptors in the body to block pain messages to the brain. Common types of opioids include codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, and morphine. Benzodiazepines are psychoactive drugs that slow down communication between the brain and the body. Doctors prescribe these medications to treat anxiety, insomnia, or stress. Common benzodiazepines include nitrazepam, diazepam, Lorazepam, and Clonzepam.

When patients combine opioids and benzodiazepines, there’s a two-fold increase in the chance of overdoes. The increased risk is because both medications cause suppressed breathing and impaired cognitive functions.

Opioids and Gabapentinoids

Gabapentinoids, specifically Neurontin and Lyrica, are alternative pain medications to opioids. Doctors often prescribe Gabapentinoids to treat epilepsy, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain. Some patients also take Gabapentinoids for generalized anxiety disorders.

The FDA warned that the combination of Gabapentinoids and opioids could cause excessive drowsiness and overdosage. Gabapentinoids are a sedative, and when used with opioids, it has the potential to cause central nervous system depression, which is when the body’s neurological functions slow down.

Antidepressants and Tramadol

Antidepressants primarily treat depression, but some doctors may prescribe antidepressants for anxiety, insomnia, or chronic pain. Common antidepressants include Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro. Tramadol is a narcotic pain medication and works by interacting with the central nervous system to relieve pain.

Both antidepressants and tramadol can raise levels of a crucial neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin. If serotonin levels get too high, a person can potentially develop serotonin syndrome, a dangerous condition causing dizziness, nausea, blurry vision, low blood pressure, and loss of consciousness.

Fentanyl patch and Calcium channel blockers

Fentanyl patches treat severe pain and are applied by a healthcare professional. They provide long-lasting pain relief for an extended time. Calcium channel blockers are medications that help lower blood pressure by blocking calcium from entering the heart and artery cells.

Fentanyl patches and calcium channel blockers can interfere at the cell receptor level, increasing the potency of the fentanyl patches. Too much fentanyl can cause headaches, mood swings, depression, uncontrollable shaking, and an overdose.

Working with Mocek Spine

Medication safety is important, especially when it comes to pain management. At Mocek Spine Clinic, we want to ensure our patients are knowledgeable about their pain medications and pain management options so they can live their life in the least amount of pain. To learn more, you can make an appointment at our clinic or call us at 501.224.4001.