Opioid analgesics have the potential to affect every major body system

Meet Anne

The side effects of opioid analgesics often outweigh the benefits of their pain-relieving properties. To illustrate these effects, we share the story of Anne, a 45-year-old woman who injured her back while moving a heavy box at work. Anne was diagnosed with a lumbar radiculopathy due to a herniated intervertebral disc. She experienced immediate low back pain that radiated down her right leg with associated numbness and tingling.

Over the course of her claim, her medical providers attempted to better control her pain and worsening depression with multiple medication classes, including muscle relaxants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, anti-convulsants, topical anesthetics and opioid analgesics. 

While she experienced minimal to no lasting pain relief with the medications being prescribed, she developed unpleasant side effects and significant functional setbacks as a direct result of the six opioid analgesic medications, some long-acting and some short-acting, being prescribed to her. Looking over her case, she had either developed or was at a heightened level of risk for opioid analgesic-related side effects involving every major body system.

Click on the body systems below to learn about how opioid analgesics affected Anne. Click here to download the case study.