If you weren’t already aware, the opioid epidemic began back in the 1990s. This is when strong painkillers, known as opioids, were prescribed for legitimate reasons but started to cause addiction in some individuals. Many using these drugs would find it impossible to stop taking them. This then led to street drugs such as heroin when said individuals could no longer access prescription drugs. The obvious result was misuse and often overdose. According to the CDC, deaths from opioid overdose continues to be a major problem in the United States, and there are also concerns about non-fatal opioid overdoses.
With that in mind, you might be wondering why opioids continue to be prescribed. But for those struggling with issues such as chronic or severe pain, opioids are often the only drugs that work to provide some relief. Or are they? In this article, we will look at the role pain clinics can have in addressing the opioid epidemic.
What are Pain Clinics?
Those dealing with severe or ongoing pain that is not responding to traditional methods of pain relief might be referred to a pain clinic. Pain clinics are special facilities staffed by pain management doctors with expertise in the area of pain. They have extensive training in diagnosing and treating different types of pain, and they use more than medication for their patients.
Pain clinics are particularly useful when it comes to eliminating the use of opioid medication, which we know has the potential for addiction. But what type of treatments do they provide?
What Treatments are Provided by Pain Clinics?
Instead of just relying on pain medication such as dangerous opioid drugs, the doctors at pain clinics utilize a host of other treatments. These might include complementary treatments such as acupuncture, psychotherapy, and diet and lifestyle changes.
Pain doctors work with their patients to create a profile of their needs and circumstances. They will conduct a thorough assessment that will involve questions about the type of pain, how severe it is, and how long the patient has been dealing with it. The doctor will also ask questions about how long the patient has been having the pain and whether it is constant or coming and going. A physical examination as well as screenings and testing may also be conducted.
The in-depth consultation allows the medical staff at the pain clinic to create a plan of care that is centered around the needs of the individual, with the goal of treating the whole person rather than just the symptoms.
According to the experts at Utah-based pain clinic KindlyMD, there are other ways to address pain than with medication alone. Unfortunately, many people do not know how to access pain clinics through their insurance, or indeed how to get a medical card in Utah or other parts of the country to access the services provided by such pain clinics.
If you are concerned about opioid use but are struggling to deal with ongoing pain, know that the doctors at a pain clinic may be able to help. Instead of relying on medication, these pain management physicians use a combination of treatments such as meditation, massage, acupuncture, cognitive behavioral therapy, nutrition advice, and lifestyle changes.
Pain doctors assess the patient as a whole to get a better understanding of what is causing the pain. They will look at treating the cause rather than the symptoms, meaning they might recommend physical therapy or other rehabilitative treatments instead. This approach is one that can have a positive impact when it comes to addressing the opioid epidemic.