Pain management and the nation’s opioid epidemic have been two topics with a heavy focus lately. As we have touched upon in Pain Decoded: Speaking the Language of Pain – Part I, pain and its’ management are complicated. As THE Patient Advocate Pharmacy, we aim to provide our patients with quality information on pain managements’ best practices so that they have a chance at the best possible outcome.
Analgesic vs. Hyperalgesia
Often times, your healthcare provider may use phrases or terms that are new to you. The terms “analgesic” and ‘hyperalgesia” are two that often arise when discussing pain management and opioid use.
Analgesia is said to have come from the Greek word “algos”, which means pain, and “an”, which means “not” or “without”. Therefore, “analgesic” implies “without pain” and the definition of analgesic actually means a drug that relieves pain.
Hyperalgesia exchanges “an” for “hyper”. Hyper means above, beyond or excessive. When combined, hyperalgesia means “an extreme sensitivity to pain”. You can think of hyperalgesia as simply an over response to pain.
There is also a term known as opioid induced hyperalgesia (OIH), which means an increased sensitivity to painful stimuli as a result of opioid use. You can think of the term OIH as meaning more sensitivity to pain because of taking opioids.
These terms are revealing as the same opioids’ whose goal it is to minimize pain, in some patients, can cause the very opposite effect. It is extremely important to keep an open and accurate conversation with your healthcare provider on how your medications are effecting your pain management. Through accurate feedback, they can best manage your medications and how they affect you and your recovery.
If you are interested in learning more about terms that have to do with pain, you can visit the International Association for the Study of Pain or if you are a patient of IWP you can register with IWP’s Patient Portal to utilize our medication database and review important information on your current medications.