OxyContin is a medication that is used for relieving around-the-clock, moderate to severe pain. It should not be used on an "as needed" basis and is not appropriate for treating pain after a surgery (unless your pain is expected to be long-lasting). However, healthcare providers may occasionally recommend off-label uses of OxyContin; taking this medication three times daily instead of the standard twice daily dosing is considered an off-label use.
Uses of OxyContin
OxyContin® (oxycodone ER) is a prescription medication approved to treat moderate to severe pain. It is a strong narcotic painkiller that should not be used to treat mild or short-term pain.
OxyContin is meant to be used around the clock at scheduled times twice a day. It is not approved for "as needed" use (unscheduled use only when needed). OxyContin is not appropriate for treating pain after a surgery, unless you were already taking OxyContin before the surgery or if your pain is expected to be moderate to severe and long-lasting.
The highest strengths (60 mg, 80 mg, and 160 mg) are not appropriate (and may be dangerous) for people who are unaccustomed to taking opioid medications, as they contain too much oxycodone for such people. In general, most people who take OxyContin switch from other narcotic pain medications (such as from short-acting oxycodone). Often, people need to take additional short-acting "rescue" painkillers in addition to OxyContin for "breakthrough" pain.
Because OxyContin contains oxycodone, it can be used (or rather, abused) inappropriately (see OxyContin Addiction).
How Does It Work?
OxyContin tablets are specially designed to release the medication continuously over a 12-hour period. It contains oxycodone, a narcotic, opioid pain reliever. It binds to opioid receptors throughout the body and produces numerous different effects. These effects include (but are not limited to):
- Pain relief
- Cough suppression
- Decreased breathing (slow or shallow breathing)
- Certain changes in the circulatory system
- Slowing of the digestive tract
- Release of histamine (which often causes itching)
- Physical dependence.