ATLANTA, GA. - Chronic pain is hell! But the Center for Disease Control says - Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, and other opioids are not the answer.
More than 40 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose, a statistic the CDC`s new guidelines on the prescribing of such pain killers, aims to change.
“For a long time, opioids have been used for acute pain very successfully. There`s just not as much good scientific information about how well they really work for lots of people who have pain that lasts longer than three months,” says Dr. Michael Weaver, Professor and Medical Director at UT Health.
The new guidelines make exceptions for active cancer, end-of-life care and when treating symptoms for incurable conditions, but say that when opioids are used, it should be the lowest possible effective dosage to avoid addiction, and especially overdose.
“Folks that have been using them recreationally, as well as therapeutically, may go on to abuse those medications, or other drugs like heroin and that`s becoming more and more of a problem in the U.S.,” says Dr. Weaver.
There are alternatives to opioids for chronic pain.
“Anti-inflammatory medication, something like Tylenol or Motrin there are lots of prescription varieties of those that work very well... There are other types of topical anesthetics like Lydocain, which is Novocain, and there are different formulations of those that can be useful for chronic or acute pain,” Dr. Weaver explains.
It`s estimated that over two million and a half million people are addicted to opiates in the United States. The CDC guidelines warn physicians to be careful, that the risks of prescribing opioids may outweigh the benefits.