Pain Management Without Opioid Drugs: Is It Possible?
Pain Management is a way of life for over 100 million Americans who live with long-term pain.
Since the 1990s, physicians’ go-to treatment for constant pain has been prescription opioids, such as oxycodone or hydrocodone. Though the evidence that opioids work for long-term pain is scarce, Americans get more prescriptions for them than anyone else in the world. This prescribing epidemic has led to a national crisis of opioid misuse, overdose, and death. Now, as policymakers work to stem the tide of abuse, patients and worry that changes will take pain medications out of their hands of people.
Pain Management: Are New Drugs The Answer For Chronic Pain?
Pain Management: Alternatives To Opioid Drugs
Opioids address pain in a different way. They look like chemicals that the body produces naturally to regulate pleasure, pain, and emotions. So, when you take an opioid, the drug attaches to parts of nerve cells called opioid receptors, where they can block pain. But they also cause the pleasurable feelings that make people want more opioids. And they slow breathing, which is why overdoses can kill.
A team of researchers at Wake Forest University and the University of Bath in the U.K. is exploring a new kind of opioid that could relieve pain without affecting breathing or raising the chance for abuse. The new drug, only called by its chemical compound name BU08028, relieved pain in rhesus macaque monkeys. When they had the opportunity to take as much of the drug as they wanted, they didn’t abuse it. When taken off the drug, they didn’t show signs of painful withdrawal.
Although in early development, safely and successfully using the drug in this type of monkey is a key step on the path toward human clinical trials.
A second drug, also in early development, could harness the pain-relieving effects of opioids while bypassing the negative effects. The drug eased pain in mice. It’s still a long way from human testing.
Pain Management: New Approaches
Pain Management: HHS Guidelines
HHS has compiled a report for doctors to use when treating long-term pain that summarizes the research behind many non-drug treatments and how they work.
An opiate might bring your pain score down from an 8 to a 6.5, but if we add physical therapy, we can bring you down to a 6. Ibuprofen might bring you down to 5.75. Then you get therapy for your depression and your mood. Then acupuncture will bring you down to 5.25 and so on.