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What are opioid medications?

Travis M. Hendry, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Opioid medications are strong prescription medications that change the way your brain handles pain signals. (They are sometimes called "narcotic" medications, but when prescribed by a doctor they are called opioid medications or just "opioids.")

Examples include morphine (MS Contin, Kadian), hydrocodone (Norco, Lortab, Vicodin), and oxycodone (Oxycontin, Roxicodone). Sometimes an opioid is combined with another type of pain reliever, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) in the same pill.

The goal of an opioid medication is to reduce your pain so you can function better at work, exercise, and in personal relationships. On average, opioid medication can reduce pain by about 30% to 40%.
Opioid pain medication is a common type of prescription pain medication. It is also sometimes called “narcotic” medication, but when prescribed by a doctor it is called “opioid.” This is a strong medication that affects the way your brain understands pain.

Percocet is a brand-name opioid that is a common prescription pain medication. It can be prescribed after surgery or childbirth. Other brand names include Norco, Vicodin, Tylenol #3, or Lortab. Generic names include oxycodone or hydrocodone.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.