Many of us have been perplexed, frustrated, or amused when we have been asked by medical personnel to rate our pain with a number. I tend to preface my number with the statement that I have had three children who are now teenagers, so I can handle pretty much anything.
If you are like me, you find yourself wondering, “How do I know if my #5 pain is your #5 pain?” “What if I am a wimp?” “What if I just want to go home...so should I purposely tell you my pain is much less than it really is?” And even worse and even more common today, “What if I just want highly addictive pain medicine so I greatly exaggerate my pain?”
In the 2016 Wall Street Journal article, “Health Officials Call for Less Aggressive Treatment of Pain,” Jean Whalen describes the beginning of what most of us remember as a revolutionary concept in patients’ rights. In what was deemed the Fifth Vital Sign, a federally funded program was instituted in which hospitals were urged and ultimately required to assess pain management. In 2004 the Federation for State Medical Boards called on states to go so far as to make undertreatment of pain punishable and criminal for the first time. This policy sounds compassionate and honorable, doesn’t it?
Yes, until you realize that the “policy was drawn up with the help of several people with links to opioid [oxycontin among others] makers.” Consider the implications of this far reaching document: with profits guaranteed to soar, oxycontin pharmaceutical executives had just designed a mandate that said too little pain medication was punishable with fines and jail time.
Within the last twelve years, the crimes, the addictions, and the deaths of those addicted to painkillers has risen exponentially. In 2006, according to www.drugfeeworld.com, 2.6 million Americans were addicted to prescription painkillers, in 2010 the numbers rose to 8.76 million (www.drugabuse.com), and the Foundation for a Drug-Free World just released the staggering number of 15 million Americans addicted in 2015.
Finally, enough was enough. In a 2016 letter sent to the head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a group of U.S. state health officials, doctors, and consumer advocates urged the agency to stop surveying patients about how well their pain was controlled while in the hospital. The group argued that the pain questions “have had the unintended consequence of encouraging aggressive opioid use” because hospitals aim for positive surveys. Karen Murphy, Pennsylvania’s secretary of health, said she signed the letters because opioid addiction is causing “the worst public-health crisis I have ever seen in my career.”
Once again, the initial idea behind what has turned into a nightmare was well intentioned. However, we now have a country that is entering yet another year with an opioid epidemic.
Enter Cox-2 inhibitors.COX-2 inhibitors are a type of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that directly targets an enzyme responsible for inflammation and pain. Suddenly, America thought they had found a solution, but after many optimistic and favorable studies, dangerous data from clinical trials revealed that COX-2 inhibitors caused a significant increase in heart attacks and strokes, with some drugs in the class having worse risks than others.
Still many patients who were so concerned with pain and the risk of addiction “prioritized the benefits of Cox-2 inhibitors over the risks” according to Dove Press’s explanation of the JH Byun et al. study “Patients with Arthritis Prioritized the Benefits of Cox-2 Inhibitors Over the Risks.”
So, once again, we as a nation are willing to sacrifice almost anything just to stop a lifetime of pain. As someone who is constantly amazed at the brilliance of people in our world, it seems virtually impossible that we haven’t found a solution to this epidemic.
Or have we?
We at Lazarus believe that the time has come for us to recognize that addiction is not a solution, dangerous prescriptions are not an option, and just as Melvin Konner sees in his Wall Street Journal’s May 2016 article, “What the West Can Learn From Tibetan Pain Management” the doctors who look at all options including ancient plant-based pharmaceuticals and guidance on nutrition and lifestyle will be the answer to a balance of a healthy life without pain and without the risk of addiction.
Tramaden®, our proprietary formula, contains natural COX-2 inhibitors as well as ingredients that promote flexibility and mobility and the restoration of connective tissue without fear of prescription risk or addiction concerns. Tramaden is particularly useful for relief of back pain, pain associated with arthritis, chronic joint pain, sprains, strains, and muscle aches.
And without the risk of addiction or the cost of a prescription, a pain-free life can be yours.