September is Pain Awareness Month As part of this, the medical industry aims to raise public awareness of pain, pain management solutions and the work of pain experts. Life in pain can be debilitating and affect the quality of life of patients and those around them. Current statistics estimate that almost 50 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. The rise in chronic pain exposure is an alarming rise in opioid abuse and addiction that is a critical focus on non-drug treatment approaches for acute and chronic pain.
The opioid epidemic
Patients are predominantly prescribed opioids to relieve acute pain associated with injury or surgery. Although these drugs are effective in treating pain, they have the dangerous side effect of high potential for abuse with prolonged use, often leading to opioid addiction and abuse. According to 2016 Drug Abuse and Mental Health Authority survey data 2.4 million Americans have an opioid use disorder and that number has continued to grow in recent years.
It is estimated that over 650,000 opioid prescriptions are issued daily across the country, many of which are consumed for non-medical purposes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of prescription opioids dispensed in the United States is approximately quadrupled between 1999 and 2015.
Need for non-drug pain interventions
the Chiropractic Advancement Foundation (F4CP) warns of a worsening development of pain and deaths from drug overdose in the United States and highlights the need for safe, effective care and solutions for drug-free pain management. The latest evidence points to alarming trends in public health; a recently published 17-year study showed a “significant escalation in pain prevalence” in adult men and women in the United States between the ages of 25 and 84 years. There was a sharp increase in prevalence over the period studied, with 21% more joint pain, 16% more neck pain and 15% more cases of back pain. These results support the need for extensive research and intervention for the worsening pain problem in the United States and worldwide.
The second alarming trend is an increasing rate of drug overdoses across the population. In December 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will have one Press release Link the mental health and economic disorders caused by the COVID-19 pandemic to record deaths, with the upward trend continuing unabated.
“These worrying trends are further indicators that a pharmacological approach to non-cancerous musculoskeletal pain is not only ineffective but also dangerous,” Sherry McAllister, DC, president of the F4CP told PRNewswire in one interview. “As the nation hopefully emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic for good, our strides in fighting the opioid epidemic are stalling as the pain continues to debilitate more Americans than it did two decades ago. Fortunately, there is growing evidence that safe and drug-free chiropractic care can help more people find the relief they need without the risks associated with opioids and other addictive drugs prescribed for pain, such as benzodiazepines. “
As part of the widespread recognition of the global pain burden, the pace of innovation in the field of pain medicine continues to increase due to the convergence of technological and scientific developments.
Innovations in pain management
Today there are a multitude of innovative medical technology solutions on the market that can help combat the national crisis and reduce opioid dependency. Implants and other devices, as well as applications and diagnostic tests, can now help facilitate effective pain management while reducing the abuse, abuse and overdose associated with opioids. In addition, the development of minimally invasive innovations has enabled patients to return to routine activities in less time with less pain and discomfort after surgery. Some of the innovative strategies for treating chronic and acute pain are outlined below.
Continuous Peripheral Nerve Block (cPNB)
This increasingly popular alternative consists of a percutaneously inserted catheter that is placed on the target nerve during a surgical procedure. Clinically proven to reduce opioid exposure during and after surgery, the catheter enables continuous infusion of fast-acting local anesthetics that provide sustained pain block and can be titrated to achieve the desired effect. Continuous peripheral nerve blocks Can be used in hospitals, home care facilities, and alternative care facilities and has been shown to reduce both the incidence and severity of post-operative pain.
Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS)
Pain relief without medication, peripheral nerve stimulation involves placing a small electrical device next to one of the peripheral nerves. The electrode then delivers rapid electrical impulses to stimulate the nerves for targeted pain relief and allows the patient to control the level of stimulation as needed.
Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy
This method performs magnetic stimulation of brain structures and networks associated with chronic pain and stimulates superficial cortical regions for pain relief. Deep TMS has been shown to be safe and effective for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and chronic pain.
Therapy with pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF)
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy uses two-field electrical and magnetic energy to stimulate cellular expression and increase overall health and wellbeing. This technique changed the pathways of pain by enhancing the body’s naturally occurring pain relief mechanisms while reducing inflammation and swelling. PEMF is a non-invasive, emotion-free therapy that can be used on an outpatient basis as well as at home.
Recently gained in popularity around the world, cryotherapy uses the body’s natural response to extreme cold to treat peripheral nerves and instantly reduce pain intensity. It can be administered using a handheld portable device or larger, stationary cryotherapy chambers that treat the entire body. Cryotherapy treatment has been found to reduce opioid use after surgery and also bring other significant health benefits, including improved mental health and well-being, less inflammation and muscle healing.
Botox injections, which are widely used to treat temporomandibular joints, are becoming increasingly popular in pain medicine as research shows that they can provide temporary relief. Emerging Studies have shown promising results in patients with thoracic outlet syndrome using botox as an alternative to rib removal surgery. Further studies are needed to determine the full extent of Botox’s clinical uses for pain relief.
In addition to radio frequency neuroablation and spinal cord stimulation, there are many other innovative pain interventions that can greatly reduce symptoms without the use of medication. In addition, the pain management innovation pipeline is robust as clinical trials are ongoing around the world aimed at developing novel methods of treating acute and chronic pain while alleviating the opioid epidemic and its drastic impact on the entire population.
The central theses
Chronic pain rates along with the prevalence of opioid addiction have continued to rise to levels that require immediate focus on drug-free pain management. Innovations in pain management and alternatives to prescription opioids are abundant and growing rapidly as the medical and scientific community works diligently to provide safe and effective solutions to millions of patients with acute and chronic pain.