What We Know Now About the Dangers of Opioids

More than 50 million adults report experiencing pain every day or on most days. Opioid medications are a common pain management treatment, but they aren’t the only option. There are effective approaches to managing pain without opioids, and the skilled pain experts at Pain Management Specialists in Rockville, and Frederick, Maryland can help. 

Our board-certified interventional pain management physicians provide a full range of services to help you get relief from chronic pain. Here, we describe what we now know about the dangers of opioids.

Opioids have an elevated dependency risk

Despite initially being marketed as having a low risk for addiction, it’s now proven that opioids have a high potential for dependency. Opioids work by binding to receptors in the brain to reduce the perception of pain and can produce a sense of euphoria, making them highly addictive. 

Taking opioids regularly, even as prescribed by a doctor, can lead to dependence, and over time, people tend to require higher doses to achieve the same effect, further increasing the risk of addiction.

Opioids carry a significant overdose risk

Opioids pose a significant risk of overdose, which can be fatal. Overdosing on opioids can lead to respiratory depression, where breathing becomes slow or stops altogether, resulting in death. Synthetic opioids like fentanyl are many times more potent than heroin and are more likely to cause overdoses.

Opioids negatively impact health over the long term 

Apart from having a high risk of dependence and an elevated risk of overdose, long-term opioid use is associated with several other health risks. These can include hormonal imbalances, increased sensitivity to pain, and a higher risk of mental health issues like depression. 

Long-term use can also lead to withdrawal symptoms when you stop, creating a cycle that can be difficult to break.

Opioids can negatively impact your quality of life

Using opioids to manage pain can have a profound impact on your quality of life and overall health. Dependence can lead to disruption in your personal and professional lives, and affect your close relationships. 

Shifting toward safer alternatives

Our team provides pain management options that offer relief without using opioids. Our approach to pain management includes:

Facet joint denervation

This technique is used for chronic pain, especially in the spine. It involves disabling the sensory nerves that supply the facet joints, effectively interrupting pain signals to the brain. This approach is particularly beneficial for patients with arthritis or back injuries.

Epidural steroid injections

Often used for back and leg pain, these injections deliver powerful steroid medication directly into the epidural space in the spine. The steroids reduce inflammation and can provide relief from pain for extended periods.

Neuromodulation

This approach involves altering nerve activity through electrical stimulation.  Patients with nerve-related pain and conditions like fibromyalgia or spinal cord injuries typically benefit the most from this treatment. 

Epidural nerve block

This is a targeted therapy that provides temporary relief for specific areas of pain. A local anesthetic is injected near the spinal nerves, offering pain relief in the targeted region.

Cortisone injections

Our team can directly inject cortisone into a damaged joint or tissue. Because cortisone has a powerful ability to reduce inflammation, cortisone injections provide rapid pain relief. Cortisone injections are helpful if you have a condition like arthritis, tendonitis, and bursitis.

Radiofrequency ablation

Radiofrequency ablation uses radio waves to heat targeted nerves, thereby disrupting pain signals. It’s a minimally invasive procedure often used for chronic pain conditions, including neck, back, and knee pain

Don’t let persistent pain interfere with your quality of life. The Pain Management Specialists team stands ready to help you find the best solution for your pain. Contact our office to schedule a consultation.

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