For managing chronic pain, opioid drugs may not be the answer. Here are ways to find relief without relying on a prescription.
A recent NIH panel found that opioid painkillers are overprescribed for chronic pain.
Doctors should look more to exercise, diet, and alternative medicine for pain treatment.
Doctors prescribe more painkillers today than they ever have — writing three times as many prescriptions for opioids as they did 20 years ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Chronic pain is a significant problem affecting more than 100 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This puts doctors who treat pain in a tough spot. Opioids come with major side effects, including mental clouding, nausea, and the potential for respiratory depression, which can cause death. There is also a risk of developing a physical dependence on them. Living with Chronic Pain (My Journey) Part 1. Living with Chronic Pain (My journey part 2)
To examine this issue, a group of panelists met in September 2014 at an NIH Pathways to Prevention workshop. They found most studies on opioid painkillers for chronic pain were too short — some less than six weeks — and that there was evidence of increased risk for overdose and abuse.
“At the conclusion of the workshop, we called for further study of opioids in the treatment of chronic pain,” says David C. Steffens, MD, MHS, a professor and chair of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut Health Center School of Medicine who took part in the two-day workshop. “We hope those who prescribe these medications for acute pain, including in the context of a work or sports injury, will be cautious about the amount of pills they prescribe.”
Dr. Steffens and his fellow panelists also came to the conclusion that a large part of the problem is insufficient knowledge on the best ways to treat pain, and a health care system that often defaults to the easiest, rather than the best solution.
New Tools to Manage Pain Without Narcotics
Making opioids the last resort in treating pain can cut the rates of addiction and death. Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports for Everyday Health.
Sanjay Gupta, MD, Everyday Health: Managing pain is one of the biggest challenges for physicians today. We have extremely powerful painkillers. The newest are 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine. They are invaluable in treating patients with advanced cancer, or for a short term while recovering from grievous injuries.
But far more patients come to us for help to manage daily, chronic pain. Often, they ask for these powerful opioid drugs by name, and that creates a dilemma for doctors. Because opioids, or narcotics, are addictive and potentially deadly, and they are being widely abused. So more and more hospitals and emergency rooms are looking for something else to offer these patients in pain.
Original article by: Elizabeth Shimer Bowers, Everyday Health Chronic Pain
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
My two cents: Elizabeth Clamon
As a Chronic Pain sufferer and someone who was on opioid Pain killers daily for 10 years this is a subject I can speak to with not only medical knowledge, but life experience. When your in severe pain you don’t care where Relief comes from, you only care that it comes. I can tell you, as a Naturopath I knew the side effects, the harm to the body, and the risk of addiction but when you are crying, screaming, feeling faint and about to pass out the only thing you can think of is getting relief. I have literally been in so much pain I have begged my husband to hit me over the head with something to knock me out, so I could get relief. When Pain is that severe everything else becomes a blur and all you about is making it STOP!!!
There are many troubling things about opioids; including overdose, addiction, dependence, and the fact that the body adjust to the medication and you have to keep increasing the dose to get relief. The later is what finally made me decide I was DONE with Treating me Pain with a “band-aid”. What do I mean by “band-aid”? Band-aid means treating the symptoms without curing the cause of the illness. There are many reasons for Pain, accidents, illnesses, aging, and many more. However, resolving the reason or cause of the pain is much better than just covering up the pain with pills. You can read more about Treating Pain Naturally in the article links below….