With the opioid crisis gripping the United States, pain management has become a critical topic of concern, and many individuals are uncertain where to turn for safe and effective pain relief. Fortunately, there are many options available beyond potentially addictive medications. In this article, pharmacist Khyati Undavia shares the latest developments in the pain management sector of the pharmaceutical industry, highlighting some of the promising alternatives to opioids that are now available to patients.
The Opioid Crisis
Khyati Undavia has pointed out the concerning trend of over-prescribing opioid medications to patients who are experiencing pain. However, in an effort to protect patients, the restrictions imposed on prescribing these medications may have swung too far in the opposite direction, depriving patients of much-needed pain relief.
To address these issues, the Centers for Disease Control has revised their guidelines for opioid prescriptions, with the aim of granting doctors greater flexibility in prescribing these medications. The revision recognizes the importance of addressing patient needs such as undertreated pain, psychological distress, and even suicide, while still prioritizing safe and responsible opioid use.
By easing restrictions on opioid prescriptions, healthcare providers can now more effectively tailor treatment plans to each patient’s unique circumstances, thereby promoting better health outcomes. These changes mark an important step forward in balancing the need for safe opioid use with the need to provide effective pain management to those who require it.
Managing Chronic Pain
About 20% of Americans deal with chronic pain, and it can be hard to manage chronic pain conditions, even when opioid medications are available. Many people who are living with chronic pain suffered following the changing of the CDC guidelines. Today, the CDC is advising doctors to focus on individualized pain treatment, instead of immediately turning to opioid medications as a first option for pain management.
Fortunately, patients dealing with acute and chronic pain have a range of options for effective pain management beyond just opioids. While the previous guidelines for opioid prescriptions were sometimes overly restrictive, they also encouraged physicians and patients to explore alternative pain management methods.
For individuals experiencing chronic pain caused by nerve issues, medications like gabapentin and pregabalin can offer relief, particularly for symptoms such as burning and shooting pain. However, these medications can cause side effects such as drowsiness and blurred vision, and patients must exercise caution when driving until they know how the medication affects them.
Antidepressants can also be an effective option for individuals with chronic pain. Medications like Savella, Cymbalta, and Effexor SR are often prescribed for chronic pain conditions, as they may help to boost certain chemicals in the spinal cord that reduce the pain signals the body sends to the brain. Some patients may need to use antidepressants in combination with other pain relief methods initially, as it can take several weeks for the maximum effect of the antidepressant to be felt.
By exploring a range of pain management strategies beyond opioids, physicians and patients can find the best options to address each patient’s unique needs and circumstances. This approach can lead to more effective and compassionate pain management, promoting improved health outcomes and a better quality of life.
The Bottom Line
Fortunately, there are various alternatives to opioids for managing chronic pain, and while opioids may be appropriate for some individuals, they are not always the optimal choice. As you work towards achieving relief from chronic pain, it is crucial to collaborate closely with your healthcare provider to identify the most effective treatment plan for your unique needs and circumstances. This insight is underscored by Khyati Undavia, a pharmacist who emphasizes the importance of tailoring pain management strategies to individual patients in order to maximize their benefits and minimize potential risks.