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12/19/19

An important primer on the use of pain medication

You can’t have a conversation about pain management without discussing pain medication. In a perfect world, interventions such as corticosteroid injections and regenerative medicine would manage (if not fully resolve) all complaints. However, the reality is that sometimes pain is refractory to such treatments. Adjunctive treatment with oral and topical pain medications is oftentimes used.

Many pain medications fall under the category of controlled substances. Examples include Lyrica, tramadol, and hydrocodone. These medications are associated with higher risk and abuse potential. This means more government scrutiny, and therefore more checks and balances on the part of the prescriber, pharmacist, and the patient.

Our goal as a provider is to strike a balance in the treatment regimen that provides you with the greatest level of pain relief, with the least amount of side effects and the lowest risk. Doing so often involves trying different medications until we find the best combination. If you have side effects or poor relief after multiple medication trials, this could warrant DNA screening to see how you as an individual metabolize different medications.

Forty-six people die every day in the U.S. from prescription opioid overdoses. 80% of these deaths are unintentional. Tragically, these deaths often involve children, as well as adults who have taken someone else’s prescription. This is a number that simply cannot be ignored. It behests us as prescribers to protect both ourselves and you as a patient. To do so, we must discuss opioid safety, schedule regular medication follow-ups, and perform urine drug screens. Opioid safety involves locking up your medication in a safe place, and only taking the maximum amount allowed with you for your duration outside of the home, be it to work or on vacation. Medication follow-ups allow us to re-evaluate your symptoms and medication regimen on a regular basis and adjust your treatment as needed. Urine drug screens ensure that medication is being taken as prescribed and that we can continue on the current treatment plan. These measures are designed not only to protect the provider, but also the patient.

If you would like to talk more about your current medication regimen, alternative treatments, or to discuss DNA screening, please feel free to call us for an appointment today.

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