The Pros and Cons of Pain Medications

Back pain is one of the most common medical complaints reported in the United States—but in many cases, the cause of the pain cannot be linked to any definitive source. This can mean that doctors and patients must respond through use of pain management techniques that alleviate the symptoms, rather than minimally invasive spine surgery or other measures that actually treat the causes.
For many people who experience severe, chronic pain, the desire to find relief can be extreme. Pain can insidiously take over your life, impacting not only your physical wellbeing but also your mental health, relationships, and work life. At the same time, prescription pain relievers have become something of a public health hazard in America. Particularly in the case of opioids or other medications that pose a strong risk of dependency, it’s important to work proactively with your physician to ensure that your medications are helping your symptoms.

Though pain relief medications can provide a lessening or cessation of pain symptoms, there are important risks to consider:

1) The efficacy of most pain medications decreases over time, as your body develops a tolerance for the drug. Your instinct may be to take a higher dose, but consult a doctor—switching to a different medication may make more sense.

2) Pain medication is often less helpful for chronic pain than it is for acute pain. Chronic pain is, by definition, pain that is constant in nature. This means taking pain meds all the time. Though that may sound like an obvious solution, issues can arise if you experience acute pain from an injury, medical procedure, or a change in the underlying cause of the chronic pain. When you really need pain medication to work, you could find that it is ineffective against different forms of pain.

3) Excessive amounts of pain medication can be extremely unsafe. In addition to risks from addiction, there is the possibility of overdose, particularly when more than one type of pain medication is used at once. Additionally, taking large doses of pain relievers or taking them for extended periods of time can place a substantial strain on your heart, liver, kidneys, and/or brain.

But you’re suffering—what are your alternative options? If you have been unable to get a diagnosis for your chronic pain, or if you would like a second opinion, make the call to get a consultation with Dr. Solomon Kamson of the Spine Institute Northwest. This outpatient treatment facility is certified by the World Institute of Pain, and offers a wide variety of cutting-edge options that may be able to help you find relief.