The Opioid Crisis and You

Posted on July 31, 2019 with 0 comments

It’s no longer news. There is a crisis of opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction in the United States right now. Most of the returns on data find that while most of the deaths related to opioids involve Heroin or street Fentanyl, there are some links back to prescription opioids that may be prescribed for pain management. 

It’s important to note that when talking about Fentanyl obtained on the streets, it is almost certainly never going to be pharmaceutical-grade Fentanyl. In very rare cases, we may even prescribe Fentanyl as part of a pain management routine. That being said, it is a very powerful drug, and has a very limited use, even among opioids. It’s also very important to note that most of this Fentanyl is also not being sold as Fentanyl. Most of it is being sold as Heroin, or even stamped into pill form and sold as Oxycontin, and again, is not pharmaceutical-grade Fentanyl. Almost all of it is manufactured in unregulated labs abroad and shipped here. 

A Problem of Dependency

While most pain patients don’t misuse their medications, many have become too reliant on their prescription opioids, forgoing other options that would help make them less dependent on interventional pain management.

“The truth is, many patients have become overly dependent on opioid therapy, and it’s making them less motivated and less focused on the things that they should be doing to achieve meaningful improvements.” – Scott Kramarich, M.D.

So, while opioid therapy might be an important part of your pain management plan, it is only part. In fact, it may only be a step to help making it possible for you to recover. There is no rubber stamp that says you have to be on opioids for the rest of your life. While some may, that varies largely between patients based on many variables, including the patient’s willingness to make positive changes and work toward improving their overall health and well-being. 

The Importance of Movement

 “Our goal as part of your treatment team is to provide the right amount of pain therapy— which may include opioids— so that you can participate in the recovery and restoration of your body’s normal function,” says Dr. Kramarich. “So many patients have lost sight of their own responsibilities in maintaining their body. For example, have you been making an effort to exercise?  Even if it’s just yoga with a chair, anything you do regularly is critical to your pain relief. We live in a ‘move it or lose it’ body: Which are you choosing?”

He goes on: “We understand that normalizing movement is difficult and painful, and that’s why we prescribe pain medication (of all sorts, not just opioids), injection therapy, and physical therapy guidance whenever these might be helpful.  We are here to give you many options apart from opioid pain medication. The goal is to give you pain relief while you pursue healthy choices more vigorously. After all, your long term success ultimately lies in your choices. It should be our mutual goal that you need medical attention and pain prescriptions less over time.”

Reducing Pain With a Healthy Lifestyle

Exercise and physical therapy are absolutely critical to your recovery and helping manage your pain. There is also a great deal of power that lies in behavioral therapy that gives you cognitive skills to help you with your pain. Choosing a diet that is full of water and light on the caffeine can make a huge difference in the way you feel. However, these are choices you have to make and continue to make every day. They are choices you should make for yourself, because ultimately, you are the one who will feel better. 

The point of all this is to say is that you are the one in charge, and ultimately you are going to be the one who has to put in the work and effort when the doctor is not around. Your physician, no matter how gifted, can’t make you be compliant with a diet or exercise plan. That is up to you. However, trusting in your physician’s expertise to know that these difficult changes will make you feel better might make it easier to make them.

We know it’s hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle. It’s work. There are people who set aside several hours of their day just to devote to fitness, and all of those people will tell you they do it because it makes them feel good. It helps them lead productive, happy lives and definitely helps keep their body in better shape and in less pain. While we aren’t asking you to do that, we are certain that taking your fitness more seriously will help you feel better and help reduce your pain.

“So work hard to regain control of your life, your body and your pain,” Dr. Kramarich concludes. “Watch your diet, keep your body weight appropriate, and control your blood sugar with regular exercise and appropriate nutrition choices. Consider counseling for a depressed mood or anxiety. Pain medication and injection therapy might be part of your short term pain relief plan, but your own lifestyle choices are what will determine your long term success. We wish you the best of health, and we are privileged to be part of your care team!” 

To see what Dr. Kramarich or one of our care providers can do for you and your pain, contact us today!

Tags: alternative pain relief, dr. scott kramarich, opioid crisis

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