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Does Morphine Make Pain Worse?

person laying on couch clutching their head wondering does morphine make pain worse

Morphine is often a go-to prescription for pain management, especially for people who struggle with chronic pain. More than 40 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain, making morphine an essential part of many treatment plans.

While there is no doubt that morphine can help to alleviate some of the debilitating symptoms associated with chronic pain, it is crucial to consider the potential side effects and risks associated with this powerful medication. One risk of morphine is addiction or dependence, which can occur when morphine is misused or overused. Additionally, morphine may worsen the pain in some people, especially if the dosage is not correctly adjusted or if it interacts with other medications the patient is taking.

At Michael’s House, we offer a painkiller addiction treatment program that allows patients to safely and effectively manage their pain while overcoming their dependence on morphine. Our holistic approach combines medical and therapeutic treatments with evidence-based addiction interventions, helping to ensure a successful recovery from morphine use disorder. Contact us at 760.548.4032. We invite you to learn more about our programs and the connection between morphine and pain.

What Are Morphine Effects on Pain?

Morphine is a powerful pain reliever that has been used for centuries. Its effects are well-known and well-documented. In small doses, it can help to relieve pain without causing excessive drowsiness. In larger doses, it can cause anesthesia. Morphine interacts with the central nervous system to change how pain is perceived. 

It binds to receptors in the brain and spinal cord, changing how signals are sent and received. As a result, pain signals are less likely to be sent, and those sent are less likely to be perceived as pain. Morphine is an effective pain reliever for both acute and chronic pain. It is often used in hospices and other end-of-life care settings to help ease a person’s pain and suffering. While it is a safe and effective medication, it can be habit-forming and should only be used as prescribed by a medical professional.

How Can Painkillers Increase Pain?

Anyone who has ever suffered from chronic pain knows it can be debilitating. Many people turn to painkillers to find relief, but sometimes these medications can make the pain worse. One reason is that painkillers can interfere with the body’s natural pain-relief mechanisms. When pain signals are blocked, the body may respond by increasing its production of pain-causing chemicals. 

In addition, some painkillers can cause rebound headaches, a condition in which the headaches become more frequent and intense after discontinuing the medication. If you’re struggling to find relief from chronic pain, working with a healthcare provider to find a treatment plan that works for you is essential.

Improving the Effects of Morphine on Pain

Although the use of drugs like morphine can worsen pain, there may be ways to make the medication more effective for pain management. Dr. Yves De Koninck, Ph.D., at Université Laval in Quebec City, Quebec, is the senior author of a study. He says, “Our research identifies a molecular pathway by which morphine can increase pain and suggests potential new ways to make morphine effective for more patients.” Paradoxical hyperalgesia is a term that describes the reduction in the pain threshold and the development of opiate tolerance. The study was groundbreaking because it identified the specific mechanism of the event in the brain, which in turn served to help identify a way to address the issue.

Dr. M. Salter, Ph.D., a full professor at the University of Toronto, senior scientist, head of Neurosciences & Mental Health at SickKids, and co-author of the study, explains that microglia, specialized cells in the central nervous system, are to blame for the morphine-induced pain. Salter has said, “When morphine acts on certain receptors in microglia, it triggers the cascade of events that ultimately increase, rather than decrease, the activity of the pain-transmitting nerve cells.”

Additionally, a protein called KC22, responsible for sensory signals in the brain, can be disrupted by morphine, which can also contribute to the increase in pain perception. What options are there to improve morphine’s pain-treating ability?—Restore the appropriate sensory perception pathways in the brain without disrupting the analgesic effect of morphine.

These changes may take a while. In the meantime, new treatments for chronic pain are being developed daily, and many newer treatments have fewer side effects. Currently, morphine and other opioid drugs continue to lead to addiction and even more significant chronic pain in the long term.

Get Help with Understanding Morphine and Pain at Michael’s House

We understand the complex connection between morphine and pain at Michael’s House. If you or someone you know is struggling with chronic pain and looking for a safe and effective treatment plan, contact us today to learn more about how we can help. We offer comprehensive addiction recovery services that address your condition’s physical and psychological aspects. If someone you love is having difficulty managing chronic pain while avoiding developing an addiction to their pain medication, there is hope for an addiction-free future. Contact us at 760.548.4032 to discuss how we can help you or your loved one break free from painkiller addiction.