Given the overwhelming number of people who have become dependent on opioids, one of the frontline efforts to reduce their use has been though adjusting the prescribing habits of doctors. Many physicians throughout the country had previously been led to believe that prescribing opioid painkillers was the most effective way to address even moderate pain following an injury or surgery.
However, more recent discoveries have not only found that they are not as safe as previously promoted, but that there are alternatives that are just as effective, but with less side effects. Pharmaceutical companies are being reprimanded with multi-billion dollar judgments in public and private lawsuits due to the deaths associated with their opioid products and how they were complicit in downplaying their addictive qualities to doctors. In fact, there were more than 200,000 lives lost to prescription opioids just from 1999 to 2017.
Prominent Physician Gives Recommendations
One top doctor recently shared his advice on how to effectively treat pain after surgeries in an effort to reduce dependence on opioids. Dr. James Grant is the chair of the Department of Anesthesiology at Cedars-Sinai and a physician executive in perioperative services.
According to Dr. Grant, “opioids should be prescribed sparingly because addiction is a real risk and there are safer alternatives that can be just as, if not more, effective.” He said it also starts with managing patient expectations, because people should understand that when they undergo surgery there will be at least some mild to moderate discomfort in the recovery process. People should know that they are not going to be free of pain.
OTC Meds Are Effective
Dr. Grant recommends first trying ibuprofen or acetaminophen first, as these over the counter medications can be effective and have less adverse risks. Another recommendation was to use a nerve block when possible, which continues to numb the localized area for up to a few days after completion of the surgery, and to reduce acute pain in the early recovery stages.
According to the National Safety Council, “Studies show opioids are less effective than over-the-counter drugs such as ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen. One of the most effective pain relief options is one Extra-Strength Tylenol taken with one Advil.”
Additional insight includes getting out of bed sooner after surgery and moving around more to promote faster healing. One Cedars-Sinai study indicated that for every 100 steps taken, patients were able to decrease their hospital stay by 4%.
Alternative Therapies Should be Included
More evidence continues to emerge surrounding the benefits of other alternative methods, such as yoga, reiki, meditation and even just regular exercise. There are also therapies such as types of massage, essential oils and other forms of stretching. Dr. Grant says that the larger medical provider community is becoming more open to these and other alternative options, especially as studies keep showing their benefits.
Getting Help for Opioid Addiction
If you have a loved one who has become addicted to prescription painkillers or other opioids, finding the right treatment center is essential. Desert Cove Recovery has successfully helped many people recover from opioid addiction from Arizona and around the country. Contact us today for more information about treatment options, and be sure to consult your doctor about any changes in treatments or therapies for pain.