Dr. Ryan Shephard: The Many Complications of Opioid Use

When you hear the word “opioid,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? The fact that a growing number of patients have become addicted to these types of drugs may unfortunately be your first thought. Yes, it is true that over 115 people pass away each day due to overdosing on opioids. However, its addictive quality is not the only drawback of using these drugs for managing pain following surgery. Here is a rundown on some of the lesser-known complications and side effects associated with opioids, according to Dr. Ryan Shepherd, a leading orthopedic surgeon.

First, you may feel drowsy or confused after taking opioids. Here are some other physical challenges you may experience if you take opioids, such as Vicodin or oxycodone.


  • Nausea
  • Urinary retention•
  • Sexual dysfunction•
  • Itching sensations•
  • Constipation•
  • Difficulty breathing•
  • Low blood pressure Note that these drugs have a tendency to impact children and seniors more than they do adults. For this reason, it is critical that doctors monitor these populations even more cautiously. Physicians typically begin doses of opioids very slowly and low, then increase these doses until the proper therapeutic levels are reached.Also, note that some medications might interact with opioids in a negative manner. Therefore, close monitoring by your doctor is necessary if you’re also taking other prescription medication regularly. Make sure that you inform your doctor about all other medicines you’re currently taking, including all over-the-counter medication, to avoid possible complications. One possible complication is drug overdose.In light of the challenges that may come with taking opioids, it is imperative that you have a conversation with your physician prior to taking opioids following surgery. You need to clearly understand the risks associated with opioids so that you can make an educated decision about using them, according to Dr. Ryan Shephard.

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