July is Pain Management Awareness Month
More Americans suffer from pain than heart disease, cancer and diabetes combined. While most people have suffered from temporary pain, a number of Americans suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain is the type of pain that can last for weeks, months or years at a time. It is estimated that the annual cost of chronic pain in the United States exceeds $100 billion. The annual cost of chronic pain includes lost income, lost productivity and health-related expenses.
Common chronic pain complaints include backaches, headaches, arthritis, neuropathy and pain caused by behavioral or emotional factors. Medications used to treat chronic pain include steroids, anti-seizure medication, anti-depressants, acetaminophen, and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Beyond medication, pain management can include various physical therapies and holistic approaches.
Chronic pain can create a cycle of stress through difficulty sleeping which will decrease the person’s ability to cope with the pain. This, in turn, can cause an increase in pain which will lead to anxiety, which will then cause sleep disturbances and on and on.
One of the issues with chronic pain management is the risk of becoming addicted to the medication used to treat it. There was a survey conducted in 2012 that stated there was enough prescription opioid pain medication prescribed for every adult American to have a bottle of pills. This can make doctors a little more skeptical when a new patient comes into the office looking for pain pills. They need to determine if the patient is in pain or if the patient is “doctor shopping.”
Earlier this year, the CDC put together its recommendation for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. The patients who were taking this medication feared that these recommendations would mean that doctors would be less likely to give them their medication.
The CDC recommended against prescribing opioids for chronic pain, looking to cognitive therapies and anti-inflammatories as their first choice. Additionally, prescribing the lowest therapeutic dose possible, to begin with focusing on quick-release medicines over extended release. They go on to recommend regular monitoring of the drug’s effectiveness, and determining when to end opioid therapy.
While patients’ reactions were fearful, a large number of doctors were in favor of the recommendations. The CDC also wants to implement Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). These programs would track the prescribing and dispensing to the specific patient that was prescribed the medication. This way a history would be shown of past controlled substance use. If a pattern was exposed that could be seen as troublesome, then preventative measures could be taken before an individual might become entrapped in a state of full addiction.Leave a reply →