Remember the time when you scraped your knee or had a really bad toothache? The pain was intense but eventually, it went away.
However, imagine if that pain didn’t stop but continued for days, weeks, or even months. That’s what chronic pain is like, and it can be incredibly hard to live with.
To help people manage this kind of long-lasting pain, doctors often prescribe strong medications known as opioids.
You might have heard about these drugs from adults or in the news. While they can be very effective in managing pain, they also come with significant risks if not used properly.
To address these concerns, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) have released new guidelines on the use of these pain medications.
Led by Dr. Friedhelm Sandbrink, the guidelines have been published in a respected medical journal, the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The guidelines introduce twenty new recommendations on the use of opioid pain medications. The key takeaways include:
- Opioids should not be the first option for managing chronic non-cancer pain.
- Long-term use of these medications is discouraged, especially in younger individuals and those with a history of substance misuse.
- Combining opioids with benzodiazepines (another type of medication) is strongly advised against due to increased risk.
- If opioids are necessary, they should be prescribed in the lowest effective dose and for the shortest duration possible.
Patients who are prescribed opioids should have a follow-up appointment with their doctor within 30 days to reassess the need for these medications. For ongoing treatment, regular check-ups are crucial.
An alternative medication, buprenorphine, is highlighted as a potentially safer option because it has a lower risk of misuse.
The overarching message of the guidelines is to approach the use of opioid pain medications with caution. The benefits they offer are often outweighed by the risks they carry.
This cautionary stance aims to ensure that these drugs are used in the safest manner possible, minimizing the risk of addiction and other negative outcomes.
These new guidelines shed light on the importance of careful consideration when it comes to managing chronic pain with medication. They serve as a reminder that while opioids can provide relief, they also pose significant risks that must be carefully managed.
Knowing about these guidelines helps us understand the complexities of pain management and the importance of using medications responsibly. It’s always crucial to have open discussions with healthcare providers about any concerns or questions regarding medication.
This initiative by the VA and DoD is a significant step towards safer pain management practices, emphasizing the need for awareness and education on the use of powerful painkillers.
Remember, when it comes to health and medication, it’s important to stay informed and involved in your care decisions.
If you care about pain, please read studies about vitamin K deficiency linked to hip fractures in old people, and these vitamins could help reduce bone fracture risk.
For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that Krill oil could improve muscle health in older people, and eating yogurt linked to lower frailty in older people.
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