Friday, July 07, 2017

Opioids--Savior and scourge

We have someone in the family with painkiller issues. I know another person who is taking a "big" painkiller for arthritis on a long-term basis.

The fruit of the poppy--or synthesized variants--have been with us for millennia.

Opioids can be effective for moderate to severe short-term pain, but even then are  risky.

Addiction, overdose, children left orphaned, communities left hopeless and destitute.

Are there alternatives?

If you find yourself staying on pain killers long after surgery or asking for them for chronic pain and even considering getting them on the internet, ask yourself:

---Why did you get them prescribed in the first place? Yes, they are strong--for strong pain. But sometimes other things work almost as well. (I had a huge incision for my hernia a few months ago, and while people's pain tolerance varies, I realized the cuts were sore but not like being ripped into anew--so I sneaked by on Tylenol.  I also did not want to use the self-administer gizmo full or Fentanyl--which is many times stronger than vicodin.)

Yet, I have bad arthritis--and do want some relief--so I know a little how chronic pain people feel. Maybe Tylenol is not their answer.

--Ask your doctor how long you will be on opioids. If this seems open-ended, ask about alternatives.

---Are opioids affecting the quality of my life? The side effects range from horrible constipation, fogginess, nausea, to depression--and sometimes to overdose and death.

--Why would you NOT stop? Do you fear being judged? Are you afraid to stop because you don't know what the pain would be like without them?

What alternatives might be available:

--Injections or nerve blocks.

--Electrical stimulation and spinal cord stimulation.

--Physical therapy--including whirlpools, ultrasound and massage.

--Acupuncture.

--Biofeedback, meditation, deep breathing.

--Surgery--Correcting the pain-causing abnormalities.

You can always ask!

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