Chronic Pain Management: Opioids And Their Alternatives

3491 words - 14 pages

“You’re faking it.” or “Can’t you just suck it up?” Millions of people who suffer through chronic pain have heard these statements made about them. In truth, they aren’t faking it, and they cannot just “suck it up.” Chronic pain, or pain lasting for longer than six months, can be a life-altering experience. According to Dr. Karriem-Norwood, the symptoms of chronic pain include: “mild to severe pain that does not go away, pain that may be described as shooting, burning, aching, or electrical, feeling of discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness, fatigue, sleeplessness, withdrawal from activity and increased need to rest, weakened immune system, changes in mood including hopelessness, fear, depression, irritability, anxiety, and stress disability (2012). This paper will focus on the treatments for chronic pain. The four major types of therapies to be explored in this paper will be: Opioids, Acupuncture, Massage, and Hypnosis. First, I will go over my own opinion, uninfluenced by research, then it will go over the research that supports and contradicts each type of treatment to be discussed, and finally I will compare how the research compares with my opinion, as well as how it has changed my perception.
First and foremost, one must have a basic knowledge of what each of these treatments entails, as well as the proposed benefits and negative effects for chronic pain patients. Opioids are medications derived from the poppy flower or synthesized to have effects similar to the natural opioids. They have been in use for thousands of years and have been the drug of choice for physicians looking to provide their patients with pain relief for more than a century. The major benefit to patients is an analgesic effect by acting on the enkephalin and endorphin receptors in the brain. The major drawback to opioid use is the possibility for development of tolerance to, or dependence on, opioid substances. Some examples of opioid medications are: oxycodone, fentanyl, morphine, and meperidine (Hart 2013). Not all opioids are used for pain, but this paper will focus on those that are currently used for pain in the United States.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical treatment for multiple issues, and is characterized by needles being strategically inserted into pressure points on the body to relieve symptoms. This is believed to reset you qi or life force within your body. This practice is carried out by acupuncturists all over the world. In western medicine, while we don’t know the exact mechanism of action, it is thought to increase blood flow and raise natural painkiller levels in the body. This rise in natural painkillers and increased blood flow are the major benefits of acupuncture. The risks are very few, there is a very limited chance of organ damage, infection, or soreness after a treatment (Mayo Clinic 2012).
Massage is a very common form of therapy for all sorts of things, from stress to chronic pain. There have been numerous studies...

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