It’s very difficult to stand by and watch someone you care about suffer from chronic back pain. Although a physician may have prescribed pain killing medications for relief, using opioids for chronic pain relief can sometimes lead to dangerous and potentially fatal drug addiction or accidental overdose.
Controlled Substances Normally Prescribed for Chronic Pain
Opioid prescriptions given to a loved one for spinal conditions may include any of the following controlled substances:
These medications can offer some relief, but the side effects of opioids and the possibility of acquiring a dependency on them becomes a reason to seek out other methods for helping someone you care about who is suffering from acute discomfort. Pain relieving drugs like opioids have a tendency to make you quite sleepy, which is why you shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery while taking an opiate medication. This can severely limit your independence if you are used to driving around to get to and from work and perform normal everyday tasks.
Dangers of Taking Opioids
Painkillers, even when given in low doses by a physician, can create a feeling a euphoria in the user. When taken consistently over a long period of time, opioids also tend to lose their potency, requiring greater dosage amounts in order to achieve the same levels of relief. Some physician may increase your dosage over the long term, increasing your risk for addiction or dependency. Patients may decide to seek out increasingly higher doses of these drugs to continue reaching more pleasurable ‘highs’ at an even greater risk for addiction.
Non-Narcotic Opioid Alternatives for Chronic Back Pain
One of the best things you can do for a close friend or family member who is in great discomfort is to recommend they use painkillers very carefully and only increase dosages with the clear advice of their physician. Even better advice is to inform your loved one about treatments for chronic pain relief that are drug-free. Here are some recommendations that you can pass along:
- Spinal Cord Stimulators (SCS): These are devices that send a signal to the spinal cord or nerves to block aches from reaching the brain. Not everyone is a candidate for wearing this device, which is implanted close to the spinal cord, with a pulse generator situated in a portion of the buttocks. You can control the intensity of the signals yourself, dependent upon the level of symptoms you are experiencing.
- StimRouter: This a neuromodulation system implantation device that relieves chronic painful spasms emanating from a peripheral nerve. It takes less than 30 minutes to impact this device, using local anesthesia and a small incision. The pre-programmed StimRouter will soon allow you to control painful episodes on your own.
- Stem Cell Therapies: Regenerative medicine uses stem cells or platelet-rich plasma (PRP) to help those suffering from spinal conditions. Stem cells are taken from a person’s own body and injected at a tissue site to promote healing. This treatment is particularly effective if your loved one has an annular tear or disc degeneration. Its primary goal is to regenerate damaged tissue for regrowth of healthier tissue and bone. PRP is taken from our own blood, spun in a centrifuge to separate out the particles necessary for regeneration that are then injected at the site of injury.
Chronic pain relief is available to you or your loved ones without the need for potentially dangerous opioid medications. Contact our team at Spine Institute Northwest to learn more about the ways you can improve your quality of life without resorting to painkillers, for a non-drug solution to back discomfort.