What is Butorphanol? (with pictures)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Hives may indicate a medication allergy.
Hives may indicate a medication allergy.

Butorphanol is an opioid medication used for analgesia in surgery, recovery from traumatic injuries, and migraine management. Drug companies usually produce this medication synthetically and package it in the form of an injectable solution or nasal spray. In some nations, it is a controlled substance and there may be special requirements for patients who need to use it at home.

Butorphanol is used to manage the pain of migraines.
Butorphanol is used to manage the pain of migraines.

This medication works by interacting with opioid receptors in the nervous system to change the perception of pain. For management of moderate to severe pain, patients are given injections as needed every three to four hours. In surgery, a higher level of pain management is used. Patients with migraines can use the nasal spray to manage the pain of the headache. A doctor can prescribe butorphanol in the early stages of labor, although the medication cannot be administered close to delivery out of concern for the well being of the baby.

Patients with migraines can use butorphanol as a nasal spray to help manage the pain.
Patients with migraines can use butorphanol as a nasal spray to help manage the pain.

Like other opioid medications, butorphanol can be habit forming and the doctor's directions for use must be followed. Over time, patients may develop a tolerance to the medication. Patients who find the medication less effective or who want a higher dose should talk to their doctors to get advice on their pain management options. It may be possible to use other medications or to temporarily increase the dosage for the management of breakthrough pain. Patients also need to be careful when they stop taking this medication, as quitting abruptly can be dangerous.

Butorphanol side effects can include constipation, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and respiratory depression. Patients who develop extreme difficulty breathing or fall into a stupor may be experiencing a bad reaction and require medical attention. It is also possible to develop allergic reactions like hives and airway closure. If signs of an allergic response develop, the patient needs immediate treatment and the allergy will be noted on patient records so doctors know to avoid this and related medications.

Patients using butorphanol at home may be given a nasal inhaler or equipment for injection, with directions on use and handling of the medication. It is important to keep these materials out of reach of children and pets. If injections are used for home care, the patient should dispose of the needles appropriately. Home sharps containers are available for patients who require a lot of injections at home. Loose needles should never be discarded in the garbage, as this can endanger waste management workers.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • Hives may indicate a medication allergy.
      Hives may indicate a medication allergy.
    • Butorphanol is used to manage the pain of migraines.
      Butorphanol is used to manage the pain of migraines.
    • Patients with migraines can use butorphanol as a nasal spray to help manage the pain.
      Patients with migraines can use butorphanol as a nasal spray to help manage the pain.