What started as a well intended effort many decades ago to help patients suffering from chronic pain achieve pain relief, has led to national crisis. We have a situation where unfortunately, a significant amount of patients have been harmed due to the use of opioid pain medications. We have learned that the potential for addiction for opioid medications is higher than what we initially thought. We also learned that despite the patient’s best efforts, they are harmed from either unintentional overdose or from unintended consequences of the use of these medications.
Extensive technological advances in our field today have allowed us to use a number of different options to help patients obtain relief from severe pain. These types of options include but are not limited to coordinated physical therapy, non-opioid medications including medical cannabis, behavioral techniques, minimally invasive procedures and surgery at times when appropriate. These treatments have allowed us to help patients get relief whereas before these options didn’t exist.
At times, despite our best efforts and the availability of better technologies, potent opioid medications may be needed to assist with patient’s pain relief. We have learned how to safely manage these medications such that we can obtain relief and help patients seek the outcome that they are looking for. A relief that helps them get better, overcome the challenges and really enjoy life again.