Are Opioids Necessary for My Pain Treatment Plan?
Residents of San Antonio who are dealing with pain or discomfort frequently discover that their pain will not go away quietly. Pain affects millions of Americans every day and in turn, the pain treatment and pharmaceutical industries offer many treatment options designed to relieve suffering.
But some of the drugs on the pain relief market also come with their fair share of risks and side effects. When it comes to opioids, some of these side-effects can present complications even worse than the pain they are intended to fight.
Those experiencing moderate to severe pain may require a prescription of pain-relieving medications to ease the discomfort and improve their quality of life. But due to the potency and abuse/addiction potentiality of opioids, using opioids as chronic pain medication can be a risky approach to resolving pain and should be treated as such.
The Danger of Opioids as a Pain Management Medication
Studies indicate that the death toll related to opioid use has more than quadrupled since the beginning of the 21st century. In fact, since 1999, overdose and fatality rates associated with opioid prescriptions have hit an all-time high in the United States. These statistics are directly correlated to the number of opioid prescriptions distributed. This evidence suggests that opioids, when taken inappropriately or without proper supervision, may lead to dependence on the drug.
The Opioid Checklist: What to Consider
Because of the prescription opioid use problem in the United States, it is up to the medical community, medical professionals, and even patients themselves to first consider all of the pros and cons of opioid use before choosing opioids as a pain treatment plan.
Thus, the American Academy of Pain Medicine has set forth a number of considerations to help analyze acceptable opioid prescription practices relative to pain management. When determining if opioids may be necessary for your pain treatment plan, there are a number of considerations that should be evaluated:
- Regulatory Factors
- Legislative policies related to opioid prescriptions generally state that doctors should not be ‘inappropriate prescribing’ opioid medications. But they also state that there should not be discouragement or prevention of opioid treatment when medically designated and closely managed.
- Fortunately, many state legislatures have already taken action to reduce the pervasiveness of what are known as ‘pill mills’, or places where doctors dole out prescriptions with little regulation and even less regard for appropriate practice methods and patient evaluation.
- Lack of Effective Alternatives
- Because of the potential dangers associated with an opioid prescription, it is widely believed within the medical community that opioids should always be viewed as a kind of ‘last resort’ for treatment.
- In many cases of chronic pain, there is often no real ‘cure’, but rather recommended strategies to ease the intensity of pain. All other conventional and interventional methods should always be fully explored before electing an opioid pain management medication as a resolution.
- Active Medical Supervision
- When the side effects of taking opioid medications outweigh the advantages, your prescription still should be monitored closely by your doctor.
- Doctors should remain vigilant and with full knowledge of the drugs they administer, and the amount which they prescribe. This includes keeping track of any patterns of addiction, other adverse effects of the medication including respiratory depression, tolerance increases, and even diversion (pattern of prescription requests, pill counting, drug tests, etc.).
- Every Situation is Different
- Opioids should only be suggested as the optimal treatment option after a detailed evaluation of the patient. This includes monitoring worsening health conditions, extensive consultation, and research into alternative methods of treatment. All the techniques considered to be within the realm of good professional practice should always be explored first.
- Only after this evaluation period should it be determined whether opioids or some other pain management medication is indeed the best alternative for your situation.
Contact a Texas Pain Specialist Today
If you or someone you know in San Antonio is experiencing any form of pain and you are wondering whether opioids are necessary for a pain treatment plan, you should always discuss your options with a medical professional before attempting to fix the problem on your own or ignoring it altogether.
In Dr. Raul Martinez’s office, we believe that other pain relief options and alternatives to opioids should be considered, and we offer a variety of pain treatment plans, ranging from surgical, non-surgical, intravenous, and others.
Dr. Martinez and his knowledgeable team of nurses and practitioners can help you assess your specific situation and consider all pain relief alternatives. For more information about chronic pain and opioids, or to speak with one of our pain management physicians, contact us today, or you can visit us in person at any of our locations across the city of San Antonio.