The United State is in the middle of the deadliest drug crisis that claimed more than 64,000 lives in 2016, with fentanyl and its analogs causing 20,000 overdose deaths. Despite a number of steps being taken by the government to control the situation, opioids prescribed to patients for chronic pain seem to drive the entire opioid crisis. Opioids are the most preferred means to treat moderate to severe pain associated with an injury or surgical procedure. But looking at the associated dangers, chronic pain patients need other options.
Supporting the cause is Dr. Ramis Gheith, founder and medical director of the Interventional Pain Institute, Saint Louis, Missouri, who has come up with effective alternatives to treat chronic pain. One of the leading pain management specialists of the U.S and an anesthesiologist, Gheith is an expert in the field of Interventional Pain Management and Neuromodulation. He helps patients reduce dependence on opioids by offering them advanced levels of care for their painful and complex spinal and neurological disorders.
Managing pain without opioids
According to Gheith, “Technology is changing how we manage pain and there are now more options than what was available to patients before. In addition, patients don’t have to be as dependent on painkillers to relieve pain.” After an extensive research, he has successfully tried different physical therapies, surgeries and nerve treatments that have replaced the need of opioids. Some of the ways he used for treating his patients, particularly, professional athletes, included the most conservative treatment methods like heat, ice, physical therapy, home exercises and rest. Some of the advanced treatment options are basic/complex nerve blocks, nerve ablations, Kyphoplasty, spinal cord stimulation, implantable pain pumps, infusion therapy and injection therapies.
Patients get addicted to opioids because of their inability to respond to conventional and/or non-opioid medication treatments. Patients continue to take opioids to be able to function properly, without realizing how the detrimental effects of opioids increase the risk of lifelong dependence and overdose. Gheith added that since most of the patients get introduced to opioids through doctors, the latter need to take some responsibility and try to find out more effective alternative methods to manage chronic pain conditions.
Safe storage of opioids is necessary
Pharmacists and doctors also need to educate patients regarding safe storage and disposal of opioids. Carelessly stored medications at home can get into the hands of children and lead to untoward incidents. In fact, teens might get addicted to drugs by experimenting with their parents’ pain pills. While opioids continue to be a part of an effective pain management plan, they should only be used under strict medical supervision.
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