The Truth About Pain Relief and Opioid Myths Uncovered
Nothing can be more painful (literally and figuratively) than living with chronic pain, desperately searching for an answer to get rid of it only to experience increasing levels of pain. If you’re experiencing this, you’re not alone. Here’s the kicker. For the millions of Americans on prescription painkillers, this is the reality. Why would the method for pain relief do nothing for pain and increase its intensity? Many doctors and researchers wanted to find a better solution to treating patients with pain. What they found has been in front of us all along… and it reveals the truth about pain relief and opioid myths which could pave the way for better outcomes in healthcare overall.
Pain Is All in Your Head
The process in the origin of pain, say a hit to the knee, and the message to the brain signaling that the pain exists is amazingly fast, almost instantaneous. But there’s another side of pain, the perception of pain, that I want to mention. What I am about to mention is in no way meant to minimize your experience about pain or question whether pain truly exists. However, there is something to be said about the power of persuasion and prescription opioid marketing to consumers.
Hypothetical scenario: You’re at home, on the couch, your right leg is resting on a layer of pillows in an effort to decrease the swelling of your injured knee. Sure, you’ve got it covered in icepacks. The doctor said to give it time. Maybe it will heal. Maybe you’ll need surgery. You’ll probably need physical therapy. Though none of these maybes are helping with the pain right now.
If your smart device is close by, you’ll start to do searches on pain relief. The phone or pad will intuitively start to send you ads about pain medications. Or more randomly, the television might display a commercial about the latest-and-greatest pill approved by the FDA to stop your pain. And there it is… the magic phrase – stop, your, pain. You call the doctor’s office and ask, maybe demand a prescription for it. This is how the cycle of expectation and disappointment begins.
Over-the-Counter Is Better than Prescription Pain Pills
With the country overwrought with opioid addiction cases, recent clinical studies have taken place to learn more about how we respond to prescription pain pills, their real efficacy on eliminating pain and whether over-the-counter choices like acetaminophen are viable options. The results were surprising and may change the way you perceive pain relief.
Chronic Pain Has Found Relief in a Household Name
It’s been nearly 15 years since Dr. Erin Krebs has been treating her patients for issues related to back pain and arthritis. Many came to her already on prescription pills that didn’t seem to manage their pain. Puzzled, Krebs took it upon herself to investigate as to whether there was any information that could either support or refute the effectiveness of the pharmaceuticals. What she found inspired her to be the source of answers.
Krebs began a clinical study to compare prescriptions and over-the-counter medications as treatments to help people with chronic pain. While the other research she found monitored and measured participants over a period of 8 to 12 weeks, nothing more, her study followed patients for 12 months, providing a more accurate assessment. Why?
The Arizona Department of Health Services reported that in February alone of this year,
403,671 opioid Rx were prescribed
People who are taking opioid prescriptions for more than 30 days are at greater risk in developing dependency and addiction to the drugs. There’s a reason why in March 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adjusted its opioid prescription guidelines. The move by the CDC was an effort to hamper the overzealous disbursement of the drug and minimize risk for overdose and death.
Opioid vs. Non-Opioid Study Parameters
Patients in the study were comprised of people suffering from hip or knee osteoarthritis or chronic back pain for six months or more. Half of these patients (240 in total) were given an opioid, either morphine, oxycodone or a hydrocodone/acetaminophen blend. The other half of participants were given acetaminophen (Tylenol) or Advil, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory.
Patients in both groups were asked about their pain in two ways:
- Functionality (did pain affect their normal daily routine)
- Intensity (level of pain)
Measurement of pain began before the study and continued for three-month intervals throughout the duration of the year-long study. Here’s what they learned.
Opioids to Treat Chronic Pain Fell Short
To understand their findings, here’s a side-by-side comparison based on what the study participants revealed.
Another interesting aspect of the study worth noting:
Patients expected the opioids to deliver better pain relief than the non-opioid options.
Finding Pain Relief Beyond a Pill
In many instances of physical injury or post-surgery, and pain due to the normal course of aging, moving the body or learning the practices of relaxation can do wonders for minimizing pain. Many healthcare agencies advocate the use of non-drug options in the treatment and management of pain, to include the CDC and the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
Non-drug options to help reduce pain are:
- Physical therapy
- And others
Pain and Suffering No Longer Need to Be a Permanent Way of Life
People endure various levels of pain for a variety of reasons. If you’ve been suffering for an undue amount of time, perhaps it’s time to shift the way you manage your pain and consider other options.
Talk to Someone Who’s Been There. Talk to Someone Who Can Help. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center holds the highest accreditation (Joint Commission) and is Arizona’s premier rehab facility since 2007. Call 888-512-1705.
Authored by Melanie Stern, Content Director for Scottsdale Recovery Center, Arizona Addiction Recovery Centers and Cohn Media, LLC. Writer and broadcaster covering the following industries: addiction rehab, health care, entertainment, technology and advocate of clear communication, positivity and humanity at its best.