Taking prescription medications, such as hydromorphone, oxycodone, fentanyl, and other opioids, to help ease chronic back pain places you at risk for abuse and addiction. More than 4 million people in Canada suffer from a substance use disorder related to prescription pain drug use. Even when prescribed at low doses, taking opioid pain relievers consistently over a period of months or even several weeks at a time tremendously heightens your risk for addiction.
How Dangerous Is Opioid Addiction?
Prescription pain relievers are helpful for some patients’ back issues, however, the use of these opioids come with negative side effects, the most dangerous being the potential for abuse and dependence.
One of the effects of these medications is a marked increase in drowsiness. It is important to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery while taking these types of pain-relieving drugs.
Opioid medications are potentially addictive for a few reasons. One is the drug’s release of dopamine, a brain neurotransmitter that gives you relaxing, pleasurable feelings. Increasing the dopamine effect leads many patients to increase their intake of prescription drugs, creating a physical and emotional dependency that is difficult to break. Another cause related to developing an opioid fixation is the need for increasingly higher doses of the drug in order to relieve chronic pain.
Tips For Avoiding Dependency on Opioids
- You can lessen your potential for becoming addicted to pain medications by strictly following your physician’s orders for use.
- Become more aware of the potential for lethal interactions with other drugs you may be taking, including alcohol use.
- Do not change your dosing regimen without first consulting a medical professional.
- Seek out treatments for chronic back pain that are drug-free. This is perhaps the safest and most effective way to avoid becoming addicted to prescription pain medications.
At the Spine Institute Northwest, we provide three different drug-free treatments to assist our patients with chronic back pain relief. These effective therapies include the following:
Spinal Cord Stimulation: There are tiny devices, called spinal cord stimulators (SCS), which can be implanted near the spinal cord to send low-speed, electrical signals to your pain centers. These impulses help control chronic back pain for those people who have not responded well to other types of therapies and do not want to resort to opioid medications. A pulse generator is inserted beneath the skin of your upper buttock, and patients can control the intensity of the signal as needed to relieve pain. At first, an external stimulator is used on a trial basis to see if the SCS works effectively enough for any particular patient before an actual device is implanted.
Neuromodulation System Implantation: For patients with lower back pain, the StimRouter, a device that targets pain coming from a peripheral nerve, may be the best alternative to medication. This minimally invasive procedure takes under 30 minutes to implant under local anesthesia and using a small incision. Electrical signals are transmitted to nerves causing pain with the patient controlling the amount of pain relief needed via this pre-programmed device. The programming can be altered in conjunction with your physician’s help and advice.
Regenerative Medicine: Stem cell therapies and the use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is the latest trend in regenerative medicine to relieve pain at its origins. The use of stem cell therapies uses cells taken from your own body or a donor tissue in order to fix and rejuvenate damaged tissues that are causing pain. These regenerative therapies are often used as a combination therapy with minimally invasive spine surgery. They increase the speed of healing and promote tissue and bone regrowth, along with decreased scar formation. Find out if you are a candidate for regenerative medicine if you suffer from an annular tear, disc degeneration, or other spine issues. PRP is another treatment option that may be used for spine pathologies. PRP is taken from your own blood specimens. The specimens are spun in a centrifuge, separating the renewing elements needed. These regenerative platelets are then injected into targeted spinal segments to speed up tissue and bone healing time, getting you back on your feet and feeling better sooner.
There is little need to rely on dangerous prescription drugs for chronic back pain when these important substance-free treatments are now available at the Spine Institute Northwest. Call us today to learn more about your choices for drug-free pain relief.