Chronic Pain- What Can We Do To Help?
If you suffer from chronic pain or know someone who does, then you understand that there is a fear that others will not believe that the pain is real. We need to validate the pain… that we believe that the pain is real. There is nothing more isolating to a person than to be suffering and have your suffering dismissed!
Are you or your person of concern sometimes drinking wine or beer or alcohol? If no, why not? I’m not saying you should be drinking, just trying to get a true picture of what is going on. So often we self medicate with alcohol or other drugs when we are in pain.
How many times in the past year have you/they had over 4 drinks at one time? Have you/they used drugs or pain medicine not prescribed to you? To what extent is depression, anxiety, or PTSD involved? Do you/they have social support? Is what you are doing working? Are you functional? Are you having side effects and symptoms when you can’t take your pain medications?
Remember, if you or your loved one is taking opiates and is sleeping a lot or sleepy, you may be over medicated and the risk of suppressing your breathing to the point you stop breathing is a concern. It may be time to lower the dose or see your doctor to change the medication. Sometimes, those on chronic opiates develop dependence or addiction to opiates and can become hyperalgesic, where opiates are actually increasing the pain sensation.
We are seeing increased prescriptions resulting in increased deaths from opiates. The JAMA article 2011 by Bohnert et. al. “Association between Opioid Prescribing Patterns and Opioid overdose-related deaths”, showed a 124% increase in unintentional opioid overdose deaths in the US from 1999 to 2007. 71% of those who abuse opiates get them from family and friends.
I encourage you to get help from either an addictionologist or pain physician who will work with you to not only manage pain, but, where appropriate, help you get off the opiates that may now be a large part of the problem.
Remember, there is great benefit in adding exercise, psychotherapy, or mindfulness training and often medications can be shifted to safer and more effective combinations or even reduced completely in many cases.