If you have acute pain and might benefit from an opioid analgesic medicine, your clinician will ask questions to consider the benefits for you and to check your risk of harm from using these medicines. They will ask what pain medicines you are already taking or have used before. Sometimes an opioid analgesic may not be prescribed, because it is not the best medicine to treat your acute pain or there is a possibility of serious harm from the medicine. Opioid-related harm ranges from less serious effects such as nausea and vomiting, itchiness and constipation, through to severe problems such as an inability to stay awake or difficulty in breathing, which may be life-threatening. Long-term harms include dependence and addiction.
Before a surgical procedure, your clinician will ask you questions to determine your risk of harm if opioid analgesics are prescribed after your surgery. Some medicines increase the risk of side effects of opioid analgesics. It may be necessary for you and your clinician to consider reducing or stopping these medicines if opioid analgesics may be required.
If your surgery is planned (elective) and you are already taking opioid analgesics, your clinician may advise reducing your opioid analgesic dose in the lead up to the surgery. This can improve your recovery and increase the options available for managing your pain after surgery.