Narcotic medications are somewhat of a double-edged sword it seems. They are great to kill the chronic pain, but they aren’t meant for long-term use. This could be why the past decade has seen a steep rise in addiction to them.
And as the medical society is becoming more keenly aware of this problem, more physicians are leery about prescribing them. As such, a person with chronic back pain suffers, unless, their doctor has the foresight to refer them to a pain management center.
Referrals to a pain management center can be made by any primary care provider or a specialist such as a rheumatologist. Is this your doctor passing the buck because they don’t want to deal with you?
Not at all! If your primary care or rheumatologist refers you to a pain management center, it is in your best interest. A facility that is set up as interdisciplinary center, usually associated with hospitals or have an affiliation with a medical university will be able to help manage your pain – with limited or no medication
Because they are usually associated with a hospital, there are medications such as pain narcotics available. But they will first try to find ways to manage your pain without them. What experts in these facilities have found is that too often, narcotics like pain killers can cause a host of other problems.
How Do These Facilities Help?
You will be assigned to a team of specialists. They will review the files your primary care or rheumatologist sends them and then they will do their own preliminary examinations and testing. This may include blood work up, MRIs, x-rays, etc.
After they have all this information gathered, the team will review it and talk to you about your medical history. What therapy or treatments you have had and how they worked or didn’t work. You should be completely honest and open with them about any part of your medical history and your lifestyle.
They will then discuss this among themselves and create a plan that will be handled through the pain management center. You may assign to a chiropractor or physical therapist. You may have meetings with a physiologist or psychiatrist. The team may feel that you could benefit from a massage therapist.
The goal of a pain management center is to exhaust all other means of managing your pain without narcotics. In some cases, there will be some medications prescribed in very small doses for a limited time to work in conjunction with the other therapies or treatments.
Why The Hesitation Of Medications?
A pain management center is based on what research has found. And research studies have found that people actually will experience an increase in pain when they are on narcotics. Medication can change the way the human body’s endorphin system works. Endorphins are the natural pain killer. Granted, there are those who can and will benefit from narcotics, but to automatically assume that is the only way to manage pain is a mistake.
Narcotic analgesics and opioids are addictive to some patients. And there is also the concern of how their interaction with other medications. For an RA patient, opioids won’t treat their inflammation and for patients with fibromyalgia and the widespread pain that comes with, opioids only make it worse.