Easing Pain in Wake of Opioid Crisis…
Pain for most of us is a random invader that will eventually go away. For others it can significantly interfere with their enjoyment of life, job performance and relationships with friends and family. And yet pain has a valuable function in signaling that something is wrong and pinpointing the location of the problem. Most importantly, it is often the most direct way to diagnose an injury or illness.
The opioid crisis of 2017-18 has complicated how physicians successfully resolve patients’ complaints of pain and how to prescribe without fear of addiction.
—“We don’t solve one problem by causing another problem,” says Dr. Alexander Salerno, Chief Administrator of Salerno Medical Associates (SMA). “We don’t do it ourselves, but we can refer to a network of pain management specialists.”—
The top three types of chronic pain from which Americans seek relief regularly are back pain, headaches and joint pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers are generally safe, but some OTC pain relievers do affect the liver, so be wary, especially if you have chronic kidney disease. Others target different kinds of pain and inflammation. The safest OTC overall for regular use is the acetaminophen, Tylenol, but moderation is always recommended for any painkiller.
Advertisers of OTC drugs would have you believe that their products are as safe and natural as spring water and organic food, but the bottom line is that you needn’t take a pain pill if you can do without it. It is not something you ingest in anticipation of pain or to keep it at bay.
This is one reason why we encourage our patients to seek our advice when they need to subdue pain. Not only will we advise you which is the best and safest way to go, but the medicine has to be taken properly, adhering to recommended daily dosages (up to 4,000 mg. for Extra Strength Tylenol, for example). Most are not addictive, but if you don’t take enough, they won’t be effective. Obviously, there are sound medical reasons why you shouldn’t go beyond the recommended dosages, including how often you take them.
What Replaces Opioids for Chronic Pain?
Prescription opioids are obviously the strongest pain relievers, but there isn’t a technology or formula without addictive potential that has supplanted them. One of the replacements for opioids is an implantable device like a pacemaker, known as a pain modulator, which reroutes the way pain tracks to the brain. This option is not offered in our practice, but, as noted previously, we do refer patients to pain management specialists who have access to all approved technologies and medications.
Medical marijuanais an approved and legal option that is available now that we have a greater understanding of its composition, how it works and the predispositions for its use. We are licensed to prescribe medicinal marijuana for chronic pain and there is a dispensary within five miles from our East Orange and Newark offices. It is a reasonably convenient and efficient way for our patients with a proper identification card issued by the state of New Jersey to gain relief from chronic pain.
Call us at (973)672-8573 or make an appointment online!