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Are Opioids Really Our Last, Best Hope against Chronic Pain?

Clinical psychiatrist Michael E. Schatman has argued that opioid therapy is the only hope left for managing chronic pain. However, reading his description of the situation strikes one as somewhat odd for many reasons.

Opioid Therapy Is Already Common

Probably the main reason why Dr. Schatman’s remarks, “maybe it’s time to stop fighting” against opioid pain medication sounds strange is that opioid use is already so high. In fact, according to a University of Pennsylvania study, opioids are now the most commonly prescribed class of medications. It doesn’t seem like doctors have been fighting against opioids at all. Rather, they have embraced them wholeheartedly.

Opioid Therapy Has Many Risks

There are many potential risks associated with opioid therapy that make it a poor fit as a primary treatment for chronic pain. Opioid therapy results in hypogonadism, with its attendant risk of bone loss. There are also the risks of addiction, diversion, and overdose. The latter has increased dramatically in recent years with the increased number of opioid prescriptions. In the State of New York, for example opioid overdoses increased sevenfold from 1990.

Opioid Therapy Can Reduce in Effectiveness

Opioid therapy also has the risk that you may become tolerant to the medication. Called opioid tolerance, it’s an effect in which a person becomes less responsive to the medication and may require more medication to achieve the same amount of pain relief.

In addition, some patients experience what is known as hyperalgesia, or enhanced pain, after taking opioid medication. Thus, not only is a person getting less relief from the opioid, they’re also experiencing more pain.

There Are Alternatives

Contrary to what Dr. Schatman says, there are options. TMJ treatment may be able to help some chronic pain sufferers, those with jaw pain, neck pain, upper back pain, and headaches. It involves no medication and has been shown to help many people live a life with reduced or eliminated pain.

To learn whether TMJ treatment can help your chronic pain, please call (303) 691-0267 at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver today for an appointment.

By |October 16th, 2013|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Are Opioids Really Our Last, Best Hope against Chronic Pain?