Dangers of opioids and other alternatives for pain management

No one likes being in pain. Patients choose care at Performance Spine and Sports Medicine because of this fact. Sure, pain has its purpose. For most people it is the first signal that something is awry in the body and our natural instinct is to put a stop to the pain as quickly as possible. The problem with this approach is that treating the pain often becomes the main focus rather than eradicating the source of the pain. Our clinical approach is all about identifying and correcting the cause of your pain. It shouldn’t be enough to simply FEEL better temporarily. The goal should be to actually BE better permanently. Otherwise, the pain is something you will ALWAYS contend with because the actual problem has remained unaddressed.

Since the early 2000’s Opioid prescription drugs such as Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, OxyContin, Opana, and methadone, and combination drugs like Percocet and Vicodin have been increasingly prescribed for Americans. Opioids are medications used to treat pain by creating a morphine-like effect. Listed below are several startling facts about opioids according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and their effect on the American population:

1. In 2012, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, enough for every American adult to have their own bottle of pills.
2. As many as 1 in 4 people who receive prescription opioids long term for noncancerous pain in primary care settings struggle with addiction.
3. Every day, more than 1,000 people are treated in emergency departments for misusing prescription opioids.
4. More than 165,000 persons in the United States have died from opioid pain-medication-related overdoses since 1999.

The numbers are startling because they are true. So, what can be done about this? How do you avoid this course? What else is there? If you’ve been looking for answers to these questions already you may have come across the #ChoosePT campaign. The goal of this national effort is to give the masses the information needed to help them choose to do more than simply mask the pain they are feeling but to treat the root cause so they can truly be pain-free. As aforementioned, if you don’t treat the source the problem will be there no matter what prescription for pain you take. The CDC has launched an objective to encourage healthcare providers to significantly reduce the use of opioids in favor of giving patients safer options for addressing their pain. That’s where Performance Spine and Sports Medicine excels in patient care.

The National Institute of Health reports this as a “silent epidemic” that is troubling and dangerous to patients. Here at Performance Spine and Sports Medicine, our physicians work closely with our physical therapists, acupuncturist, chiropractors, and massage therapists to treat an individual’s pain and control their symptoms without overusing opioid medications. A recent study out of Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida found that “comprehensive interdisciplinary outpatient rehabilitation can significantly improve the quality of life in people with chronic pain.” Acupuncture is making the move from “alternative medicine” and more insurance companies are offering coverage as studies have shown its benefit in treating chronic pain.

The potential benefits of an interdisciplinary rehabilitation program far outweigh the risks involved. In addition, chronic opioid use carries much higher risks including opioid-induced constipation, respiratory depression, developing a tolerance to the medication, and physical dependence/addiction. Our motto is “Get better faster, stay better longer” and we truly believe in this. With our multidisciplinary approach, we are able to tailor a program that will fit the specific needs of the individual patient and not the masses.Before you consider opioids for chronic pain, we urge you to try alternative methods of pain management here at Performance Spine and Sports Medicine.

1. American Physical Therapy Association. Avoid Addictive Opioids. Choose Physical Therapy for Safe Pain Management. #ChoosePT. Available from URL:
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Increases in Drug and Opioid Overdose Deaths — United States, 2000–2014 MMWR 2015; 64;1-5.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Available from URL: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6043a4.htm?s_cid=mm6043a4_w#fig2
4. Chang H, Daubresse M, Kruszewski S, et al. Prevalence and treatment of pain in emergency departments in the United States, 2000 – 2010. Amer J of Emergency Med 2014; 32(5): 421-31.
5. Daubresse M, Chang H, Yu Y, Viswanathan S, et al. Ambulatory diagnosis and treatment of nonmalignant pain in the United States, 2000 – 2010. Medical Care 2013; 51(10): 870-878.
6. CDC. Wide-ranging online data for epidemiologic research (WONDER). Atlanta, GA: CDC, National Center for Health Statistics; 2016. Available at http://wonder.cdc.gov

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