Medical Doctors across the country are trying to imagine a future without opiates to treat chronic pain. While most medical doctors are contemplating this issue, some are making the case that getting rid of their patients’ pain completely is not only impossible, it’s unnecessary.
“Zero pain is not the goal,” Dr. Thomas H. Lee, chief medical officer of the healthcare consulting firm Press Ganey, wrote in a commentary published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn. “The reduction of suffering is — and that is something more complex than analgesia alone.”
This view goes against all attempts by doctors to suppress their patients’ pain as much as practically possible. These efforts helped fuel a surge in prescriptions for opiate painkillers, such as OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin.
The over prescribing of these medications has been blamed for surging rates of opiate addiction and death in the United States. This has caused the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue new guideline urging doctors to reserve those medications for patients with acute cancer pain. In addition, those receiving palliative care and those in their final days of life are also candidates for these medications. However, patients receiving treatment of chronic pain due to conditions like arthritis and back problems, are urged by doctors to try Tylenol, Advil or other non-addictive therapies. These are the new guidelines recommend by the CDC.
This may come as a shocking surprise for most people, but the benefits of opiate painkillers are “unproven and transient”. This isn’t based on my opinion, this is based off of research done by Dr. Tom Frieden director of the CDC. Dr. Frieden says these drugs can be “just as addictive as heroin”.
If that wasn’t shocking enough, listen to this…,more than 165,000 people in the U.S. have suffered fatal overdoses of these prescription painkillers since 1999! …and this is according to research done by the CDC. Now listen to this, currently 1.9 million patients are estimated to be addicted to or abusing the drugs.
Those harms must be weighed against some rather dubious benefits, Frieden and Dr. Deborah Houry, director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control wrote in a commentary published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.
They noted that several studies, conducted on post-surgical patients and on menopausal women with chronic pain conditions, suggest that long-term opioid use often fails to bring relief. In fact, these drugs may actually worsen patients’ pain and lower their functioning, possibly by magnifying the subjective experience of pain.
While the true purpose of health care has always been the reduction of suffering, patients understand the distinction between that goal and the elimination of pain, Lee wrote in JAMA.
Physical Pain is more than just about suffering; it also encompasses functional impairment, fear, uncertainty and confusion. The most important thing a doctor can do is listen to and communicate with patients. In addition to that, doctors should show compassion. Studies have shown that when doctors coordinate with other physicians to address patients’ needs, patient suffering is reduced – even if they still have pain.
However, with all that being said, quality does not mean the elimination of death and compassion for patients does not mean the elimination of all pain.
In a guide to fellow physicians Dr. Mitchell Katz, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, wrote that when he sees chronic pain patients, he may ask them to rate their pain on a scale of 1 to 10, but he places much more weight on how well they are able to function.
What I find interesting about all of this is that Chiropractors have been saying this for over 120 years. We’ve been telling people that prescription medications are often times dangerous and sometimes deadly.
Is your pain really worth becoming addicted to “heroine” like substances? …is it really worth risking potential death?
Here’s the deal, people can live with “pain”, but the truth is, when the pain interferes with your ability to function, that’s when “pain” becomes an issue.
People can have back pain and still function…but when the back pain interferes with their ability to take care of their kids, work, make love to their spouse, stand, sit or sleep for any period of time, that’s when the pain becomes a “real” problem.
Typically people with these problems would just go to a medical doctor to get a prescription pain med like OxyContin, Percocet or Vicodin, but as you just read, this goes completely against the new federal guidelines and has been proven to not only be dangerous, but deadly.
If your doctor is still prescribing these medications to you, just beware that your doctor is not up to date on the latest research.
Chiropractic care has been proven time and time again to help reduce or eliminate pain naturally, without dangerously addictive drugs or unnecessary surgery.
If you’re suffering with pain such as back pain, joint pain, migraines, headaches, neck pain or shoulder pain, you can call our office and schedule a free consultation with us today at...
We look forward to hearing from you.
Drs. Edwin and Yasellyn Vega