Back pain is one of the most common afflictions for both men and women. It appears to be the price we pay for walking erect with compression of the bones of the spine, which impinge on the nerves to the back and lower extremities. One of the most commonly prescribed medications for low back pain are opoids. Men using long-term, high-dose prescription opioids for back pain are more likely to be using medications for erectile dysfunction such as Viagra, Levitra, Cialis or testosterone.
Bottom Line: Men should be aware that erectile dysfunction is a potential side effect of long-term, high-dose opioid therapy. Doctors and patients should be aware of this when considering options for chronic pain management, especially because non-pharmacologic treatments—such as rigorous exercise and cognitive-behavioral therapy—may be at least as effective.
Findings from the study were published in Spine (2013; 38:909-15).