Opioids and chronic pain

by Niccole Caan, KVII

Wednesday, October 9th 2019

Opioids and chronic pain (Source: KVII Photo) NOTE: To view photos or videos go to the link listed below.

AMARILLO (KVII) — The federal government declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency in 2017. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 70,000 people died in 2017 from a drug overdose. Almost 68 percent involved a prescription or illicit opioid.

“I tried everything: physical therapy, chiropractor, acupuncture,” said Elmore.

Penny Elmore says she has been in pain for more than a decade. But for her, there are few other choices in treatment after suffering a spinal injury.

“I tried three surgeries and I’m still in the same pain.”

With that chronic pain also comes a prescription for opioids so she can function.

Dr. B.J. Daneschfar is a chronic pain doctor with Acute and Chronic Pain and Spine Center in Amarillo. He recognizes the opiate crisis is real. He also says the drugs exist for a reason.

“Narcotics have a place in treatment of patients,” said Daneschfar.

But he says it is not the only treatment for chronic pain.

“You go to the root cause of a problem while the patient is getting pain relief,” said Daneschfar. “Then once you treat the root cause of the problem, then you got to wean the narcotic. That’s not a life-long medication like most people believe.”

He says he has to balance people’s pain with the possibility of addiction.

“You got to believe what pain the patient is reporting to you is real, give the benefit of the doubt to the patient,” said Daneschfar.

Yet there have been difficult conversations with some patients who maybe seeking opioids for purposes other than pain.

“If it’s improper, I show them the door,” said Daneschfar. “I can’t treat you, under no circumstances.”

For Elmore, the emotional toll of her pain is just as impactful as the physical limitations it causes. She says family and friends have called her a drug addict.

“They don’t understand how come somebody can take them every day and not be a drug addict,” said Elmore. “I have a prescription.”

She says she doesn’t get a high from her opioid medication.

Opioids are just one tool in a doctor’s arsenal to fight chronic pain. One that is used sparingly to avoid abuse.

The CDC estimates 11 percent of adults experience chronic pain.

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Tags: 4ValleyCentral, opioid, chronic pain, CDC, Center for Disease Control, Acute, Dr. B.J. Daneschfar

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