Catalog item:

Medicines to Relieve Chronic Pain (ASA)

Campaign Series: Choosing Wisely
Medical Category: Drugs
Article Type: Advice
Language: Plain English, Spanish
Affiliation: American Society of Anesthesiologists
Format: PDF
Most recent update: 12/16/2014
Opioids (narcotics) are common pain medicines. They can help if you have bad short-term pain or if you have an illness like cancer. But usually they are not the best way to treat long-term pain, such as arthritis, low back pain, or frequent headaches. This kind of pain is called “chronic” pain. Before getting opioids for these problems, you should discuss other choices with your doctor.