Opiates in Pain Management #AtoZChallenge
The debate over the use of prescription narcotics in the management of pain has long been a controversial topic. This topic has come more to the forefront of late as the debate heats up in both the media and the healthcare industry. There are arguments both for and against the use of opiates. In this post, I will share my knowledge and experience as they relate to the use of narcotics in pain management.
I have had numerous experiences with both acute as well as chronic pain. I have, at times, been on extremely high dosages of narcotics in an attempt to manage the pain, at that point chronic and increasing in nature. I was on such a high level of narcotics that it was determined that it was safer and more effective to implant an intrathecal pain pump to dispense the medication directly into my spine.
This required significantly less medication to achieve the same, even better, results. Doing this enabled me to manage the pain in order to undergo intensive physical therapy towards a better quality of life. Eventually, I made the difficult and personal decision to discontinue the medications to remove the side effects and further increase my quality of life.
More recently, I had undergone multiple major neurosurgical procedures in an attempt to relieve a spinal cord injury in my neck. While in the hospital, just a day or two after the surgeries, I was informed by a pain specialist that they would only treat my pain for a maximum of two weeks. After that, I would no longer receive any pain management whatsoever.
After five days in the hospital I was transferred to a spinal cord injury unit in a local physical rehabilitation hospital. While I have become accustomed to managing a great deal of pain in my daily life over the years, I was extremely grateful to find that the rehab hospital was not subscribing to the two weeks and done philosophy dictated by the pain practitioner in the hospital. I spent many weeks recovering from the surgery and performing several hours a day of various therapies in order to improve and ultimately hopefully restore functions affected by my spinal cord injury.
It is now four months post surgery and I’ve managed without pain medication for roughly two months now, by my own choice. I’m not going to lie to you, some days like yesterday are absolutely horrible. It is a personal choice and one that only you and your properly trained healthcare provider can make together after weighing all the options.
Having worked in the healthcare field as well as having been a patient, I will admit that there can certainly be abuse of prescription pain medications. But I do not think that a blanket rule of a set number of days of therapy is the best approach. Pain is an extremely individual issue that should be handled on a case by case basis by properly educated persons. There are many factors that affect pain from the nature of the initial injury to injuries of surrounding tissues and especially nerve damage.
As medical science, the study of pain, and technology improve there are more and more interventions becoming available that can decrease the need for opiates in pain management. However some are infinitely difficult to find, and like nearly all medical treatments, are not without their own risks. Nobody should be forced to live in pain due to stigma, fear of being labeled a drug-seeker, or fear of addiction. There are plenty of ways to mitigate these risks while mitigating at least some of your pain to improve your quality of life. Many times chronic pain will never be relieved entirely, but there are a wide variety of ways in which you can improve your life either with or without the use of narcotic medications.
What are your experiences with the use of narcotics in pain management? Would you like to share your story with us? We would love to hear from you! Please remember to be respectful as everyone experiences pain differently and we all should be treated with respect. Reply in the comments below.