Pain Medication Should Never Be the First Option
Living in chronic pain is something that far too many Americans face regularly. Chronic pain is any type of pain or discomfort that lasts more than three months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of chronic pain is estimated to be anywhere from 11 percent to 40 percent. With these numbers in mind, it should come as no surprise that millions of Americans turn to medications to manage their pain. Sadly, this has contributed to the U.S. opioid epidemic. In the late 1990s, we witnessed an increase in prescription opioid medications, which eventually led to widespread misuse of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. Unfortunately, many people do not understand the implications of taking pain medication and the dangers of mixing certain drugs.
The purpose of today’s blog is to look at the dos and don’ts of taking pain medication and what drugs should be avoided. We will also go over a few critical facts about chronic pain and chronic pain conditions. If you have any questions about this or if you have questions about taking pain medications, please do not hesitate to contact Texas Partners Healthcare Group today. Your health and well-being are our priority. As a regenerative medicine clinic, we believe in the importance of exploring all your options before turning to pain medications. While these drugs are intended to provide relief to those suffering from chronic conditions, they are also dangerous and can cause serious problems when misused. You must understand the various side effects of a given medication, as well as what drugs should be avoided.
Facts About Chronic Pain
Acute pain and chronic pain differ in how long the pain is present. As mentioned briefly earlier, chronic pain is any pain that lasts for more than 12 weeks. To understand why so many people have turned to pain medications to cope with chronic conditions, let’s look at a few facts about chronic pain:
- 1 in 10 Americans have experienced chronic pain every day for at least three months
- 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain
- 20 percent of U.S. adults have chronic pain
- 5 billion people worldwide experience chronic pain
- The most common type of chronic pain is low back pain (27 percent), followed by migraine (15 percent), neck pain (15 percent), and facial pain (4 percent)
- Low back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide
- 77 percent of people report feeling depressed because of pain
- 51 percent of those living in chronic pain say they have little to no control over their pain
- 20 percent of chronic pain sufferers have sleep problems
- 36 million Americans miss work every year because of chronic pain
- 4 in 10 people say chiropractic care, massage therapy, and other alternative forms of pain management are incredibly effective
Chronic pain is severe and wreaks havoc on the lives of millions. It can be easy to turn to drugs to mask your symptoms, but they do not treat the root of the problem. We encourage you to contact Texas Partners Healthcare Group today to learn more about natural alternatives to prescription drugs, such as stem cell therapy.
Common Chronic Pain Conditions
Some of the most common types of chronic pain include:
- Back pain, such as bulging discs, spinal stenosis, compression fractures, structural deformities, and soft tissue damage
- Headaches and migraines
- Joint pain, such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, repetitive motion injuries, bursitis, and tendinitis
- Nerve pain, including sciatica, diabetic neuropathy, carpal tunnel syndrome, and postherpetic neuralgia
Common Dangerous Drug Mistakes
Unfortunately, there is no shortage of people who have died from mixing painkillers with other drugs and substances. One of the most dangerous combinations is pain medications and antidepressants, such as Zoloft and Prozac. Alcohol is also a no-no when taking medications intended for pain, but many people ignore this. Medication errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States, many of which could be avoided. To reduce your risk of injury or death, you must talk to your doctor or pharmacist about mixing medications.
Here is a look at some of the most common mistakes made when taking pain medication:
- Taking two or more drugs that may interact adversely – Common examples include antidepressants and methadone, painkillers and supplements, blood thinners and nasal decongestants, and antibiotics and oral contraceptives.
- Mixing drugs and alcohol – This is a big no-no, especially when it comes to antidepressants and acetaminophen. When alcohol and antidepressants mix, it can lead to drowsiness and delayed response system. Combining acetaminophen and alcohol can cause damage to the liver.
- Not asking the right questions – Before leaving your doctor’s office with a new prescription, make sure you have all the information you need. Know the name of the drug and ask about any possible interactions with other medications, vitamins, herbs, or supplements you are taking.
- Getting the wrong prescription – Unfortunately, this happens more than people realize, and it isn’t always their fault. Double-check the drug before leaving the pharmacy and, when in doubt, ask questions.
- Failing to take the medication as directed – ALWAYS take medications as directed. One of the biggest mistakes people make is ignoring instructions. This can make the drug ineffective and may also put you at risk.
Seeking Alternative Pain Management Treatment
The bottom line? Know the active ingredients in the medications you are taking and ask your physician about introducing other drugs. Opioids, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and over-the-counter medications can be beneficial when used as directed. Still, the potential side effects of combining certain drugs may be deadly. If you are living in chronic pain and would like to learn about natural treatments and alternative therapies, give us a call. Stem cell therapy, ketamine infusions, and other forms of regenerative medicine can help manage chronic pain without the negative side effects and adverse interactions. Our team is here to answer your questions and help make the best decision for your needs.