A Note on Prescription Opioids from Dr. Siegfried:
The United States is currently experiencing an epidemic of prescription opioid overdoses. More Americans die each year from drug overdoses than from motor vehicle accidents. Most of those overdose deaths are due to misuse of prescription opioids. The United States has less than 5% of the world’s population, yet we consume over 80% of the world’s supply of painkillers. How did this happen?
It used to be conventional wisdom that prescribing opioids to treat chronic pain was the right thing to do. Physicians were told we should ask about pain and escalate opioid doses if the pain persists. We were told opioid use in the presence of real pain was unlikely to cause harm. Unfortunately, we now know that this guidance was incorrect.
Much of what we were told about the treatment of chronic pain has not been supported by current research. In fact, there is no strong evidence-based foundation for the conclusion that long-term opioid treatment of chronic non-cancer pain is effective. Complex chronic pain is very different from acute pain, or cancer pain.
Opioids are at best 30% effective in reducing long-term pain. High doses of opioids have been associated with INCREASED pain due to a well-established phenomenon called “opioid induced hyperalgesia”. Studies have shown that chronic backache, chronic headache, migraine, fibromyalgia syndrome, and chronic abdominal pain do not respond to long-term opioid treatment. High doses are associated with significant harmful effects including: hormonal imbalances that can result in decreased libido, infertility, fatigue, depression, anxiety, loss of muscle mass/strength, osteoporosis and menstrual irregularities in women. Of greatest concern is the high mortality rate associated accidental overdose. Now we know that the use of opioids for the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain provides a very small amount of benefit, but carries an unacceptably large amount of risk.
This is a public health crisis that affects everyone in our community. In order to respond to this epidemic and protect our patients from harm we do NOT prescribe opioids long-term for patients with non-cancer pain.
* 80% of ALL narcotics are used in the USA.
* Opioids are only 30% effective for long term, chronic non-cancer pain.
* More Americans die each year from drug overdoses than car accidents.
* Most drug overdoses result from misuse of prescription opioids.
To learn more about the most effective ways to treat chronic pain, call our office to schedule an appointment:540 Lafayette Road, Second Floor Sparta, NJ 07871 Phone: 973.796.5216 518 Routes 6 & 209 Milford, PA 18337 Phone: 570-409-3371