Over the past few years the dangers associated with using opioid-based pain medication to treat chronic pain have come into focus across the country.
Below he answers some frequently asked questions from patients about how Schedule II Drugs are used to treat chronic pain, and what patients should know about how it should be used.
Question: Why do pain specialists occasionally prescribe opioid-based pain medication?
Dr. Michels: “Pain specialists have many tools at their disposal to treat people’s pain. We start with the most conservative treatments (ice, heat, stretching, over the counter medications). These are usually effective for the treatment of mild to moderate pain. If conservative treatments are ineffective, or a person’s pain is moderate to severe, opioids can be a safe and effective way to help manage pain symptoms until the underlying cause of the pain is treated or resolves.”
Q: I’ve never taken a medication that strong – how can I make sure it doesn’t become a problem?
Dr. Michels: “With very few exceptions, opioids are to be used on a short term basis for moderate to severe pain. Studies have shown that there is a nearly 0% chance of becoming addicted to opioids when they are appropriately used to treat moderate to severe pain. Again, the goal is to utilize opioids short term until the underlying cause of the pain is treated or resolved.”
Q: What other options do I have besides opioid-based medication to treat my chronic pain?
Dr. Michels: “There are multiple tools at the disposal of pain specialists to treat pain that do not require the use of opioid medications. The reason I went into Interventional Pain Management was to utilize minimally invasive procedures to treat pain at its source and minimize the use of opioid based medications. Other modalities such as diet, exercise, physical therapy, and non-opioid medications also play a tremendous role in managing pain without the need for opioids.”