Pain Management: Recognizing The Value of Technology

April 2021

Pain is the most prevalent health complaint that people suffer from. It can range from being a mildly irritating sensation to an agonising, debilitating phenomenon. Pain management is the term used to describe any pain treatment and relief methods for acute or chronic pain conditions. The market for this type of treatment in the United States, projected at higher valuation last year, is expected to grow annually.

But when it comes to chronic pain management, opioids are often not the first option. The problem is that opioid prescriptions are too often written for short-term, acute pain rather than long-term, chronic pain. Physicians don't always have a grasp of how patients experience chronic pain mentally and physically — which can make them reluctant to prescribe medication like narcotic opioids or even anti-inflammatories. We'll go over some of the challenges with this type of treatment that you may face as a patient with chronic pain along with the treatment options available to help alleviate your symptoms and live your life without experiencing any limitations due to your condition.

Pain is a natural component of the human experience. In an average day, each person experiences six types of pain and two general types of pain: chronic and acute. If that weren't enough, it seems as if the incidence rate is on the rise.

Since we are experiencing a medically related opioid crisis, more people have access to medication for treatment for their chronic and acute pain. The problem with this treatment plan is that doctors are feeling pressured by patients to prescribe opioids when they don't necessarily feel like these medications are appropriate or safe to prescribe. This leads to more patients with pain have access to prescription pain medications and therefore this population may also obtain them through illegal means.

This is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed immediately. It is the responsibility of the medical community, doctors and pharmacists alike, to ensure that only patients that need pain medications receive them and that those who need them for legitimate reasons are prescribed the appropriate medication and dosage.

An additional consideration for these doctors is finding an effective non-opioid alternative to treat chronic and acute pain as well as post-operative pain management. It seems as if there is a general consensus that the opioid crisis is most likely due to ineffective pain management. The significant rise in opioid use could be attributed to ineffective treatment of chronic and acute pain. So, what do we do?

The medical community has started to look at both non-pharmacological and pharmacological options for managing all types of pain. One study found a positive correlation between acupuncture and nonopioid analgesics as part of integrative care for musculoskeletal pain. Another study found that electroacupuncture can reduce postoperative morphine consumption.

There are many non-opioid alternatives to help treat chronic and acute pain. These include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, local anesthetics, capsaicin cream, and topical opioids. Anticoagulants such as heparin can also be used to decrease the risk of blood clots. Pharmacological alternatives to treat chronic and acute pain include acetaminophen for mild pain, tramadol for moderate pain, morphine for severe pain, and codeine or oxycodone for post-procedural pain lethargy. Another type of therapy involves cognitive behavioral therapy.

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