Tags: Chronic Pain | painkillers | back | surgery | opioids | drugs

Help Me Stop Taking Painkillers

Friday, 20 Sep 2013 11:00 AM

Question: I had cervical spine surgery a few years ago and still have to take a painkiller every day. Is there anything else I can do for the pain?

Dr. Hibberd's answer:

Having treated orthopedic injuries for many years and having had my own injury after trauma years ago, I can attest to the futility of relying on narcotic medications alone for pain control. Orthopedic pain treatment requires a combination approach.

An anti-inflammatory such as naproxen (Aleve, 500 milligrams twice a day) mixed with a short-term narcotic (such as hydrocodone) will ease pain immediately after surgery. But it's a good idea to consider some type of physical therapy after you have fully recovered from back surgery.

Almost all orthopedic pain after healing has occurred is best managed with mobility, so it
's important to remain active and not become sedentary. Sometimes trigger point injections, stimulators, and topical treatments — such as Lidoderm patches — can help, as well.

I do agree that narcotic use should be minimized, and is far too widely abused.

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