On March 15, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain in response to a growing epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths in the U.S. While Americans constitute only 4.6% of the world’s population, we consume 80% of the global opioid supply. In 2012 alone, health care providers wrote 250 million prescriptions for opioid pain medication, which translates into one bottle of pills for every adult in the nation. It is estimated that approximately 2.1 million people in the U.S. suffer from substance abuse due to prescription opioid pain relievers, and 78 Americans die from opioid overdose every day.
It starts with chronic pain
Nearly 100 million Americans are living with chronic pain, which is defined as pain that lasts longer than three months or the expected healing time. One of the primary tools that physicians have adopted to combat chronic pain is opioid medications, which include morphine, codeine and oxycodone. While opioid medication provides quick and effective pain relief when taken for a short period of time—it can become addictive when used over the long term. In fact, according to the CDC, about 1 in 4 people in the U.S. who receive opioid prescriptions over the long term develop addiction problems.
For those patients who do become addicted, physical drug dependence coincides with psychological changes that could include compulsive behavior to get the drug; craving for the drug; and continued use despite negative consequences, like legal problems or losing a job.
Keep it simple—and safe
The new CDC guidelines were drafted to help physicians provide the safest and most effective treatment for their patients with chronic pain. If adopted, they would sharply reduce opioid prescriptions in the U.S.—which, in turn, could lead to decreased addiction. The primary take-away from the guidelines is that opioid medication shouldn’t be used as first-line therapy for chronic pain; rather, non-pharmacological treatment is preferred. The guidelines also state that when opioids are necessary, the lowest dose possible should be prescribed for the shortest duration possible. And when opioid medication is prescribed, patients should be monitored closely by their physicians.
At PMIR, our approach is “Do no harm”
At Pain Management & Injury Relief, we take our responsibility to our patients very seriously. Our expert team of pain management specialists is committed to helping our patients achieve long-term pain relief through a targeted, minimally invasive approach that uses non narcotic pain relief methods and treatments whenever possible. On occasions when prescription medication is deemed necessary, it is always used sparingly and carefully monitored.
This is an example of a patient success story without the use of opiates:
A 44-year-old male professional from Los Angeles was out to dinner with his wife in New York when he experienced a sudden sharp pain radiate from his back, down his leg making him unable to stand. He was in excruciating pain and had to get on the next plane back home. After an emergency doctor appointment and MRI, he was diagnosed with sciatica. He was referred to our practice and one of our PMIR physicians reviewed his MRI to diagnose a herniated disc. Our physician recommended 13 – 14 sessions of Physical Therapy, core strengthening exercises and a series of 3 epidurals. After 6 months of consistent core strengthening exercises, stretching and healthy eating habits, he is finally back to his normal active lifestyle.
As pain management specialists and anesthesiologists, we have years of intensive training in anesthesiology, pain medicine and are trained to treat all aspects of pain. This deep knowledge and level of expertise helps ensure that we can properly evaluate diagnose and treat many different types of pain without causing harm to our patients through improper use of pain medication. Instead, we collaborate with our patients to achieve lasting pain relief using the latest technologies, most advanced equipment and innovative procedures. We also work closely with complementary specialists to treat the underlying causes of your pain and its associated conditions.
For more information about how we work and how we might help you, call Pain Management and Injury Relief at (877) 724-6349 to make an appointment today.