It’s hard to overstate the effect that chronic pain, especially chronic back pain, can have on your life as it becomes a constant, and most unwelcome, companion. Not only does chronic pain limit you physically, but the mental toll is also equally as serious, leaving you feeling hopeless and frustrated.
As you try treatment after treatment, with no success, your best avenue for restoring your quality of life may be pain management through medications, often opioids. This class of drugs is highly effective at disrupting the pain signals, but opioids have some very significant drawbacks — namely addiction.
At Failed Back Surgery, Dr. Scott Smith and our team have extensive experience helping our patients in Weatherford, Texas, manage chronic pain. While our goal is to address the underlying cause for long-term, and drug-free, success, there are times when the best avenue is to manage the pain through medications.
If you’re on chronic pain medications, here’s a look at how you can sidestep the very dire consequence of addiction.
Addiction by the numbers
To put the opioid problem into perspective, here are some statistics about opioid use in the United States. To start, 21%-29% of people who are given prescribed pain medications misuse them and 8%-12% develop an opioid use disorder. Going a step further, 80% of those who are addicted to heroin, first used prescription painkillers.
And now for the frightening statistic — 130 people die every day in the United States due to opioid overdose.
To avoid becoming a part of any of these statistics, let’s take a look at how we can relieve your pain without developing a use disorder.
The most important thing you should do when taking prescription pain medications is to only take the drugs as prescribed. The reason addiction is such a clear and present danger with opioids is that, over time, your brain may rewire itself to receive more of the drug as you build up a tolerance.
This can happen innocently enough to start — you take your medications an hour or two earlier than you should because you feel some discomfort coming on. Each time you do this, however, you’re essentially training your brain to receive the drug more frequently, and your window in between doses begins to rapidly shrink.
To avoid this very slippery slope altogether, only take your medications according to the schedule we provide.
Continue our search for relief
One of the best benefits of pain medications is that they buy us time to seek out alternative treatments. For example, with the pain quelled, we may recommend that you try some physical therapy to strengthen the supporting structures in your back to take some of the pressure off your nerves.
We may also look to other solutions, such as injection therapies or nerve stimulation, to see if we can’t garner longer-lasting results than the temporary relief that comes with pain medications.
As our name implies, we are very familiar with the constant struggle that comes with chronic back pain, and we urge you to be open and honest with us. Our goal is to restore your quality of life by any means necessary, but if you’re worried that you may be developing a problem with your medications, we can come up with alternative solutions. And, rest assured, we do have solutions.