There is an epidemic of people in the USA managing chronic pain with the opium derived narcotic drugs codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, fentanyl and more. For a short time after a severe injury or a major surgery, or long term for people with painful terminal cancer and elderly people with severe repairable degenerative joint disease these drugs are truly a god-send. For younger people with many good years left to live, regular use of these drugs is risky.
treating chronic pain with opiate/narcotic drugs is a risky business
Its been estimated that as many as 40% of people using narcotic pain drugs for an extended period will develop a physical dependency. Physical dependency on narcotic pain killers is evidenced by withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued. Of those developing a physical dependency as many as half will develop patterns of abuse such as increasing dosages on their own, running out of medication before a refill is due, borrowing and even stealing pills prescribed to others.
opiate drug use makes a person more sensitive to pain, stops the digestive process and kills by accidental overdose
Even for those who never develop a physical dependency or patterns of abuse with narcotic pain medicine there are serious concerns. There is a growing body of evidence that treating chronic pain with narcotic drugs increases a person’s sensitivity to even minor pain, a condition called “hyperalgesia”. A major side effect of opiate drugs is to shut down the digestive system. Chronic nausea, vomiting, and constipation are part of the spectrum of symptoms called “gastroparesis”. The number of deaths from accidental overdose of prescription narcotics is also on a dramatic increase.
for severe unrelenting pain opiate drugs are a godsend
Cancer and some other severe, irreversible degenerative diseases may find no tolerable substitute for the pain relief only narcotic drugs can provide. For people in these situations the risks may be worth taking or completely irrelevant in the face of the severity of the pain being suffered. There are however many people with less severe conditions that are taking great risks by using narcotic drugs to manage pain. So what else is there to be done?
NSAIDs are safer but also have problems in chronic use
NSAIDs such as aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen are often viewed as safer alternatives to narcotic pain killers and indeed they are, but they are filled with issues as well. Excess aspirin use can cause bleeding disorders and degenerative changes in the inner ear that in the most severe cases cause chronic vertigo, deafness, headaches and even brain swelling. Acetaminophen is toxic to the liver and when combined with regular alcohol use can cause acute liver failure and death. All NSAIDS when used for arthritis have the disappointing feature of blocking the body’s ability to repair the underlying damage to cartilage that is a root cause of the pain.
the root of chronic pain and degenerative disease is chronic inflammation, often from the diet
The most common feature of chronic pain and degenerative diseases is chronic inflammation. The most common causes of chronic inflammation are found in the diet. The modern diet is filled with foods that increase inflammation. For everyone an imbalance in dietary fats fuels inflammation, and for many, intolerance of certain foods common in their diet triggers inflammatory processes. Being overweight and obese is now being shown as another primary source of inflammation independent of diet.
In a traditional diet with balanced fat intake the ratio between omega 6 and omega 3 fats is between 1:1 and 4:1. The ratio found in the typical American diet is 20:1. Inflammation is a needed and natural process in the body. Omega 6 fats are used to produce inflammatory signals when the immune system is activated to respond. Omega 3 fats are used to produce immune signals to turn inflammation off when a threat has passed. When dietary fats are imbalanced the immune system can effectively signal inflammation but is unsuccessful at turning inflammation off. When a person experiences non-stop inflammatory triggers and has imbalanced dietary fats, chronic inflammation and degenerative disease is a common result.
eliminate the root causes of your pain and your need for pain medications
The naturopathic physicians at True Health Medicine, PC have been trained to look at the whole person and the factors that predispose that person to suffer chronic inflammation, chronic pain, and degenerative disease. Once our doctors understand a person’s unique medical history and lifestyle factors, guidance can be given to reduce generalized inflammation, non-drug treatments to reduce chronic inflammation can be prescribed, and specific treatments such as acupuncture to reduce pain and inspire healing can be administered. Our doctors have a unique knowledge and tool set to help a person balance their nutrition, gut ecology, immune system, and hormones in support of losing inflammatory excess body fat.
contact us today to begin your journey back to true health and pain free living
Benefits are available from most health insurance plans that include coverage for naturopathic medicine. Call us for verification of what your insurance plan provides for you. We offer a financial courtesy when full payment is made at time of service and offer an easy payment plan when insurance benefits are not available.
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