Treating chronic pain can be a challenge. In many cases, the best treatment we have available are opioid pain relievers. Unfortunately, these pain relievers can result in serious problems. New research suggests that about 25% of patients who have been prescribed opioid pain relievers will abuse them.
As a result, the rates of opioid painkiller abuse and prescription drug overdose have increased significantly in recent years. But there is hope: for many people drug-free treatment can lead to relief of chronic pain. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that your doctor will tell you about it.
Why Opioid Pain Relievers Can Be Ineffective
Opioid pain relievers are the most commonly prescribed medication for chronic pain. The belief is that they’re highly effective, and, initially, they can be. Unfortunately, even when they start out effective, they lose their power.
Opioid pain relievers are so effective at blocking pain signals that the body quickly becomes adapted to them. In fact, they’re so effective that they change your body’s pain perception mechanisms. After you’ve taken opioids for a while, you begin to interpret your normal state as being painful. This makes it very hard to stop taking opioids. And because even your normal state is now painful, controlling pain with opioids requires ever stronger doses. This contributes to people taking more of the medication than they should. Every day about 7000 Americans are treated for opioid overdose related to prescription medication.
So it’s no wonder that a quarter of people who are treated with opioids come to abuse them. Some people use them for themselves, while others sell them on the growing black market for prescription opioids. In many states, even some doctors and dentists serve as a source for these illegal drugs, and large-scale stings have taken down the grey market pain clinics that serve both legitimate patients and abusers.
Don’t Even Go There . . . If You Can Help It
Often times, a doctor who prescribes you opioid painkillers for chronic pain is essentially throwing up his hands. He has given up on trying to find and treat the cause of your pain and is just trying to control your symptoms. Before you fill that prescription and start taking those pills, consider your treatment options.
Most doctors know little to nothing about TMJ, so they won’t tell you about its potential role in your chronic pain.
If your problem is headaches, jaw pain, neck pain, and other symptoms potentially related to TMJ, consider TMJ treatment. It’s not right for everyone, but many people are surprised and delighted at the level of pain relief they can get without drugs.
If you suspect that TMJ might be contributing to your chronic pain in Philadelphia, please call (610) 272-0828 for an appointment at Dental Excellence of Blue Bell. You can talk to a TMJ dentist about drug-free treatment options for pain.