The Substance Abuse Disorder (SUD), including the use of opioid medications, in America is worsening more than ever and claiming thousands of lives every year.

Chronic pain patients are sometimes prescribed opioid medications. These block pain receptors in the nervous system, while also flooding the body with endorphins, which are most often known as the feel-good hormones. Partly because of this feeling, the patients may continue these medications and get addicted to them. This creates a vicious cycle of addiction and increased use of opioid medications. Added to this combination may be other medications and substances like sleeping pills and alcohol that may result in serious consequences, including death.

Fortunately, there are options for pain management that do not involve the opioid medications. These include targeted physical therapy, interventional nerve blocks and procedures, and other non-opioid medications.

For someone who is addicted to opioids and suffering from its consequences, the first step is to deal with the situation head-on. In-patient and out-patient drug treatment facilities are recommended for those suffering from addiction. This includes the comprehensive management plan by specially trained experts and often involves stress on psychological help and sometimes other substituted medications given under strictly monitored conditions.

Patients do not have to wait to have their pain managed before their addiction is under control. During the process of rehab from addiction, and continued onwards, any of the approaches mentioned above for the relief of pain can be instituted. This approach may limit and/or avoids the need for medication management. Other non-opioid medications that maybe used include anti-inflammatory medications, anti-epileptic, and anti-depressent medications, specifically approved for various forms of chronic pain. The interventional treatment options may include epidural steroid injections, trigger point injections, nerve blocks, ablation procedures, sympathetic blocks, and newly introduced wireless peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) techniques.

 

The trained, experienced, and board certified pain physicians at the Pain and Spine Center of Charlottesville offer many of the approaches mentioned above. At their consultation visit, the patients are encouraged to discuss all available options and a mutually agreed treatment plan is formulated. Patient’s families are often involved in this discussion.

As the Chinese saying goes, the journey of thousand miles begins with one step. For someone in chronic pain, that is affecting their function and quality of life, who may also be dealing with addiction issues, this first step naturally involves getting in touch with an experienced and trained pain physician and an expert in addiction management.