Are you wearing high heels all day or typing on a keyboard at the wrong height? If you are suffering from shoulder pain,  back pain and stiffness repeatedly, identify the wrong postures or sitting/walking habits that are causing it rather than indentifying what medicine to take for back pain.

Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability in the world. Usual medication for severe pain includes giving a simple pain killer like paracetamol or NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti- Inflammatory Drugs); however, when aching lower back pain lingers and becomes chronic, many are prescribed opium-based pain killers.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the rate of opioid overdose — including prescription opioid pain killers and heroin have been quadrupled since 1999. More than 165,000 people have died from medical overdose of opium for pain relief.

A new study involved over 2,000 participants with lower backpain. Of the nearly 50% participants who were currently taking opioids for chronic back pain, only 13% said the drugs were very helpful pain relief. A total of 44% mentioned the drugs were somewhat helpful in pain relief, for 31% the medications were moderately helpful, and for 12% they had no positive effect.

Currently, The United States is experiencing an opioid epidemic, and India is on the verge of heading in that very direction. Opium is derived from the poppy plant, and opioid compounds are powerful pain relievers that have been used for back and sciatica pain relief for a few decades now. Though effective, they can lead to side effects like constipation, drowsiness, and problems in breathing to the extent that it could lead to death in cases of an overdose.

 

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In stark contrast, the study concluded that opioid pain killers provide only limited relief to shoulder back pain patients along with the dependence and side effects they produce. The stigma with opium consumption is also a concern for the patients who are using this form of therapy.

Asokumar Buvanendran, M.D., lead author of the study, Director of Orthopedic Anesthesia and Vice Chair for Research at Rush University, Chicago, and Vice Chair of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) Committee on Pain Medicine, stated, “Patients are increasingly aware that opioids are problematic, but don’t know there are alternative treatment options.” .

The last decade has seen fanatical prescribing of opioid pain killers for long-term and severe pain in conditions with no cure such as multiple sclerosis, cancers, severe rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, etc. The dependence on the drugs is enormous leading to withdrawal symptoms like trembling and insomnia on sudden discontinuation.

Dr. Buvanendran has urged physicians worldwide to wean patients off opium and look for multi-modal options for pain relief, especially back pain treatment. If the patient is complaining of back pain problems for over three months, they should see a pain relief medicine specialist who uses an approach of medicine combined with bracing, physical therapy, interventional procedures such as nerve blocks, nerve ablation techniques or implantable devices, other medications including anti-inflammatories and alternative therapies such as biofeedback and massage.

 

 

 

Author

Visit Physician, 17+ years experience

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