Do our loved ones & friends KNOW ?
- Note: Taken from Health Sciences Institute e-Alert – Melissa Young 1/17/17
Over the past couple of years, it’s been hard to miss the exploding opioid painkiller crisis.
For some, and under just the right circumstances, they can bring much needed pain relief. But they also can take you in the opposite direction before you know it — with tragic consequences.
But here’s something you probably haven’t heard about these drugs.
When patients with chronic pain use them, all those terrible risks are intensified.
And then there’s another one — and it’s a heartbreaking irony.
Opioids can actually make chronic pain even worse.
‘Not the answer’
Opioids are an amazingly easy trap to fall into.
Last year, a study found that seven common operations, such as hip and knee replacements or even keyhole gallbladder surgery, can put you at significantly greater risk of becoming addicted.
Now, a new study from two doctors with the Pennsylvania-based Geisinger Health System have found that when used for chronic pain, opioids can actually prolong it.
Not only can these drugs suck you in like quicksand, but if they’re used for more than three months, they can interfere “with the body’s natural resolution” of pain, said the authors.
Along with that, patients can begin to suffer the effects of what the researchers call “unique long-term toxicities.” These can include depression, cognitive impairment, infections, sleep disruption, fractures from falls, and other risks including addiction… and death.
We can only hope that this message gets through to doctors loud and clear because this is one of the most dangerously over-prescribed class of drugs in the world. And it’s no wonder. You’re in pain, you take a pill, and in a few minutes you have relief.
If only it were that simple.
Previous research has found that even with short-term use, opioids are incredibly dangerous. In fact, a study from Vanderbilt University Medical School that examined the data for over 45,000 patients discovered that more of them had died from taking these drugs at prescribed doses than from an accidental overdose. That’s because they can kill by slowing down breathing, causing an irregular heartbeat, and triggering heart attacks and sudden death.
The Geisinger team puts it like this: “Opioids are not the answer. Chronic pain rehabilitation, exercise, cognitive behavioral therapies, acupuncture, yoga, or tai chi are all better options than opioids.”
As general advice goes, that’s an excellent start. But you’ll need to consult with an experienced pain specialist to find out what therapy — or combination of therapies — will be most effective for your specific condition.
For instance, these are just a few of the studies of non-drug therapies for chronic pain that we’ve reported on over the years:
- For chronic neck pain, chiropractic adjustment sometimes gives patients significantly more relief than either exercise or NSAID drugs.
- Acupuncture can be just as effective as conventional drug therapies in treating chronic lower back pain.
- Raising vitamin D levels with supplements reduces pain triggered by inflammation in osteoarthritis.
- Omega-3 fatty acid supplements also reduce the inflammation that is often at the root of various types of chronic pain.
- Identifying and eliminating food allergy triggers — especially dairy — can often alleviate rheumatoid arthritis pain.
Obviously, there are many factors that contribute to chronic pain. Pain specialists can work with you to find the most effective relief so you’ll never end up teetering at the edge of the dangerous abyss of opioid drugs.
To Safe Healing,
“Geisinger physicians report opioid therapy to be ineffective in treating chronic pain” Geisinger Health System, December 8, 2016, Medical Life Sciences, news-medical.net