Alternatives to Treating Pain
Chronic pain medication use has been increasing in the past 20 years at an alarming rate. The number of patients on chronic pain medications is growing which is very concerning, taking under consideration the fact that opiate pain killers do nothing to actually make the condition better and in the long run can be very addictive. They have the potential for side effects such as: nausea, vomiting, constipation, drowsiness, and respiratory depression and if taken for prolonged periods may cause hormonal changes, osteoporosis, depression, and cognitive impairment. According to the CDC, in 2014 there were close to 20,000 deaths due to overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers, which is about 3 times more than deaths from cocaine and 2 times more than deaths from heroin overdose. (https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates). Despite these alarming numbers we have not seen a decline in the prescribing of these dangerous drugs.
In addition to all this, studies have shown that there is no good long-term evidence to support the use of opioids for chronic pain. So why is this such a problem? Possibly because most practitioners and patients alike do not know what else to do to treat pain so on goes the opioid craziness! However, there is hope for those who chose to pursue a better way of life. Studies have shown that interventions such a exercise, posture training and physical therapy, as well as giving the injury time to heal, work better than pain medications and surgery in most cases. A recent study concluded that mindfulness-based stress reduction and cognitive behavioral therapy was of great value as a way to treat chronic back pain. These included meditation, stress reduction and yoga and apparently patients typically only needed 16 sessions or less to see significant results.. (http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/03/22/471305344/for-chronic-low-back-pain-mindfulness-beats-painkillers). In our practice we chose to steer away from long term narcotic use and instead we use other means to treat back pain such as:
- Medial Branch Block
- Radio Frequency Ablation-RFA
- Epidural Steroid Injections
- Prolotherapy and PRP -Botox injections
- Various Ultrasound Guided Injections
- Supplements such as MSM and vitamin injections
- Medically assisted weight loss and counseling
There is a light at the tunnel for those who chose to give an alternate treatment a try and who don't want to be a slave to opioids and all the dangers which go along with their use. Keep moving and don't give up on yourself and your health!!