Chronic pain has been a problem in the United States for many years. The difficulty is it has been treated very differently over the course of those years.
For many years it has been a situation for which physicians were not giving medication because they didn’t want to get somebody “addicted.” Then the pendulum swung to the other way and pills were being given out sometimes a little too easily.
Now the government is getting involved, and they are changing the rules on how physicians can prescribe medications such as opioids.
I prefer to think of it, not in terms of “opioid crisis,” but the inappropriate use of opioids.
We’re not talking about the person on the street that is hoarding this medication and using it for partying sake, but we’re talking about someone who is needing it because of a chronic pain syndrome.
The difficulty is, when we talk about Fentanyl usage, that 70% of the illegal Fentanyl comes through China and in an illegal source, not from physicians.
The problem is that the government has changed the rules. If you go to your physician, you’re going to see things that happen differently when you need the medication. Such as:
- If you have an acute injury like a broken arm, the physician can only give you enough medication for a total of seven days. At that point, you must sign a form stating that you understand the implications of that medication.
- For someone who has chronic pain, the same thing also occurs. There’s a form called the “Start Talking” form, where we get a dialogue going about what pain medicine is and the potential problems with long-term usage.
It really doesn’t change how a physician should be using medication. As long as the physician is taking a proper history, examination, and diagnostic studies, and makes the correct diagnosis, whether it’s for blood pressure, diabetes, or pain management, the pain medication should be something that should be used, in a very safe and fairway.
We realize that pain is going to impact people around the world in terms of their jobs, quality family time, as well as just how they’re feeling. For that reason, pain management needs to be addressed. While the governmental involvement has changed things, it really hasn’t stopped anything from occurring. Pain management will occur and will continue to occur.
Don’t let the things that you see in the media scare you. You need to have an honest, open conversation with your pain clinician or your family doctor on what you need in order to be comfortable.
Read more from Dr. Stan: Dr. Stan on Concussions