The largest consumer in the world
Narcotics are not the best or only way to manage pain. Narcotic consumption is exponentially growing in the United States. The US consumes more narcotics than any other county in the world, roughly 99% of the narcotic supply. This alarming statistic contributes to overdose being the leading cause of death for young adults ages 25-45. Most of these users are not buying narcotics on the street but rather obtaining them from family, friends, or physicians.
How can we fix it?
Recent studies show increasing narcotic dosages do not necessarily correlate with pain relief. Although physicians are still caught between the need to help control pain and the risk of over-prescribing narcotics.
More than ever physicians are having to catch on to red flags for narcotic users, such as inordinate quantities, inconsistent intervals, no physical exam, use of street slang, and no logical relationship to the underlying condition. Additionally, it is imperative that physicians document narcotic abuse in chart notes. In Idaho, our physicians have access to the Board of Pharmacy reporting tool. With this tool, physicians can see a complete report on a patients’ medication history. Our physician’s use this tool frequently before prescribing pain medications.
Above all physicians want patients to have adequate pain relief. For this reason, they prescribe pain medications in the postoperative period. To protect patients and their families our providers have strict medication guidelines. It is much harder to control pain after surgery when someone is taking narcotics before surgery because they can have a tolerance built up. If patients continue to have pain after the post-operative period, we will consider a referral to a pain management specialist.
Doing your part
There are multiple tactics patients can use to help with pain relief aside from taking narcotics. Patients must maintain a positive attitude, and partake in relaxation and distraction techniques to calm anxiety. Additionally, patients should continue to do daily exercises in addition to physical therapy appointments. Furthermore, elevating the extremity can help decrease discomfort and swelling.
Most of the information for this blog was from Dr. Travis J. Kemp’s website, tjkempmd.com.