Conditions That Warrant Prescriptions for Oxycodone

Oxycodone is a prescription drug indicated for the relief of moderate to severe pain, according to the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Oxycodone is an opiate analgesic that is considered a narcotic and changes the way the brain and nervous system respond to pain. Oxycodone is prescribed alone or in combination with acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve short-term pain, chronic pain, cancer-associated pain, migraines, shortness of breath and anxiety, according to eMedTV.

A woman clutches her lower back in pain. (Image: pamela burley/iStock/Getty Images)


Joyce Frieden, News Editor for "MedPage Today" says in an article published in 2010 that there were 17 million prescriptions of single-ingredient oxycodone written for 3.4 million patients and 32.5 million prescriptions of oxycodone combination products written for 13.7 million patients in 2009. General practice family physicians prescribed the most oxycodone of any medical specialty.

Short Term Pain

Oxycodone is effective at treating acute or short episodes of pain. Research published in the "International Journal of Clinical Practice" in 2008 demonstrated that oxycondone is effective for the management of acute episodes of neck pain in patients who failed to respond to non-opioid conservative treatment. According to an article published in 2010 by, oxycodone in combination with acetaminophen can be effective in treating short-term pain due to surgery, dental procedure, injury or migraines.

Long Term Pain

Oxycodone is effective in treating chronic pain including chronic low back pain, osteoarthritis pain and painful diabetic neuropathy, according to research published in "Minerva Anestesiologica" in 2005. The research concludes that oxycodone is twice as potent as morphine and has a higher bioavailability.

Oxycodone can relieve pain associated with cancer during all stages of the progression of the disease. Research published in "Clinical Drug Investigation" in 2008 demonstrated that oxycodone controlled-release is effective as a first-line opioid to treat moderate-to-severe cancer related pain. Moreover, the research showed that pain intensity decreased significantly within one day and continued to decrease each day thereafter for the study duration of 21 days.

Other Conditions

According to an article published in 2010 by, oxycodone in combination with acetaminophen can be effective in treating insomnia and coughing. Many physicians prescribe other drugs indicated for these ailments. Oxycodone can also treat pain from shingles.


Several misconceptions exist about the use of oxycodone for the treatment of pain, according to the American Hospice Foundation. Some people may be afraid to take oxycodone because of its potential for addiction, yet people do not become addicted to oxycodone when the drug is prescribed in accordance with generally accepted guidelines. Some people may believe oxycodone is dangerous, yet the truth is oxycodone is safe when the physician prescribes the drug as recommended by pain management experts and the patient complies as instructed. Some people may be afraid that oxycodone can stop their ability to breathe, yet the drug is safe when the starting dose is low and formulations are short acting. Some people are afraid they could become addicted to oxycodone, yet in short-term use the drug is more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms and not addiction.

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