Can A Person With Chronic Pain Quit Opioids?
Many people with chronic conditions may be prescribed opioids to manage their pain. This is usually how a person is first exposed to opioids. Opioids are not the ideal way to manage long-term pain. They are addictive, and even when not misused, a person may build a tolerance. Opioids also have unpleasant side effects such as chronic constipation, general sleepiness, dizziness, and an inability to drive or operate machinery. The higher the dose, the more difficult it is to function and have a good quality of life.
Chronic pain is something millions of people experience. It is defined as pain that lasts for six months or more. Almost anything can cause chronic pain, from an old injury to arthritis or a degenerative disease like Multiple Sclerosus. However, treatment can improve a person’s quality of life.
Nothing in this article is meant to take the place of a doctor’s advice. Understanding pain, however, is the first step to beginning to approach its treatment in a new way. As a result, many people have been able to quit opioids and find new ways to manage their chronic pain.
All Chronic Pain Is Not the Same: Nociceptive and Neuropathic Pain
Everyone has experienced pain in their lives. But did you know that there is more than one type of pain? Some people experience only nociceptive pain, pain that is typically from a tissue injury of some sort. Other people experience neuropathic pain, such as sharp stabbing ice pick headaches or an electric-type pain that goes down the spine.
Some people with chronic pain experience both types of pain due to damage to their bodies. The good news is that there are ways to treat both types of pain without opioids or while minimizing opioid use.
One type of pain, which is typically considered short-term or acute, is called nociceptive pain. This is the type of pain a person experiences when they reach out and touch a hot pan or fall and skin their knee. Nociceptive pain is caused by damage to body tissue. It can feel sharp, aching, or throbbing. Some people may describe it as a dull but constant pain. Inflammation also plays a part in pain levels; as a body heals and inflammation decreases, the pain dissipates.
Usually, a person will know what caused the pain, but not always. The pain usually starts to lessen as the injury heals. Some injuries, however, are permanent and cause chronic pain that lasts for six months or more. In addition, the symptoms may worsen if the damages are caused by progressive disease that causes inflammation, such as lupus or arthritis.
This type of pain responds to opioids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other medications, depending on the source of the pain.
The second type of pain is called neuropathic pain – this is pain that involves the nerves in your body—neuropathic pains signal that a nerve is injured (or the body believes it is damaged). Examples of neuropathic pain include certain headache disorders, back pain, or sciatica.
Diseases such as cancer and multiple sclerosis can cause neuropathic pain as well. In addition, injuries to the back involving “pinched” nerves are common and harrowing neuropathic conditions.
Most people describe their neuropathic pain as a stabbing sensation, electric shocks, or shooting pains. However, people who experience neuropathic pain often experience numbness and tingling as a result of nerve damage.
Opioids often do not help much with neuropathic pain but are sometimes prescribed. Different drugs are typically prescribed that work better with nerve pain. Antidepressants such as Lexapro can often help with some types of nerve pain. Some headache disorders and spine conditions respond well to anticonvulsant medication.
Chronic Pain And Opioids
For many years, the medical community has recommended opioids for acute and chronic pain. Unfortunately, this caused harm in communities across America as the opioid epidemic began to claim lives.
Many people who take opioids may want to reduce their medications and find safer, more effective alternative therapies. For example, physical therapy and other self-care programs such as mindfulness or cognitive behavioral therapy can help people with chronic pain. In addition, getting the pain under control without opioids can help them begin to change their approach to managing their condition.
Pain clinics today recognize that opioid addiction is a risk for people with chronic pain. And there are often better treatment options available. Therefore, working with a person to reduce or eliminate their need for opioid medication is a priority for most legitimate pain doctors.
For some people, Medication-Assisted Treatment is also an appropriate avenue for quitting opioids. People who have been on them for years may otherwise experience unpleasant or unsafe withdrawal symptoms.
Getting Help for Opioid Dependence or Addiction
As a pain patient, you may have reservations about seeking help for opioid dependence. However, many people in the same situation have chosen a new path. We know that living with pain affects all aspects of your life. We want to help you live your best life! We work for the best outcome and meet you where you are. We have physicians work with you as unique individuals to help you safely manage and reduce pain.
Get in touch to learn more about the services we offer at 910-395-7246.
If you are in need of help, please call us at: 910-295-7246 or message us.