Font Size

Opioids for a Herniated Disc


Generic NameBrand Name
acetaminophen and codeineTylenol with Codeine, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin, Percodan
hydrocodone and acetaminophenTylenol with Codeine, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin, Percodan
oxycodone and aspirinTylenol with Codeine, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin, Percodan

How It Works

Opioid medicines (narcotics) relieve pain by altering how the brain perceives pain.

Why It Is Used

Opioids are usually used to treat more severe pain that is poorly controlled after using other medicines.

Because these medicines can be addictive, they are usually prescribed for a short period of time (1 to 2 weeks).

How Well It Works

Opioids are sometimes used to relieve acute pain caused by a herniated disc.1 Doctors who specialize in treating pain in adults with degenerative conditions such as spinal osteoarthritis believe that opioids can be a responsible choice for treatment if pain is not relieved by other forms of treatment and you are unable to engage in daily activities.

Side Effects

Side effects of opioids include:

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Limit your use of opioids to less than 2 weeks. Opioids are only meant for treating periods of extremely severe pain and are not intended for use until the pain goes completely away.

You may become physically dependent on opioids if you take them regularly. Physical dependence is not addiction, but rather a gradual change in your body in response to the opioids. If you stop taking opioids abruptly, you may develop nausea, sweating, chills, diarrhea, and shaking. These are symptoms of withdrawal from the opioid. This physical dependence is not life-threatening and can be avoided if the opioids are tapered off over a set period of time, as prescribed by your doctor.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)Click here to view a form.(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



  1. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Academy of Pediatrics (2005). Lumbar herniated disk section of Spine. In LY Griffin, ed., Essentials of Musculoskeletal Care, 3rd ed., pp. 769–773. Rosemont, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerWilliam H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerRobert B. Keller, MD - Orthopedics
Last RevisedJuly 21, 2010

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

To learn more visit

© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Medical Dictionary