Opioid crisis: How non-opioid treatment options are changing the game for people with chronic pain | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Opioid crisis: How non-opioid treatment options are changing the game for people with chronic pain

Wes Irwin
Dr. Wes Irwin

About the author

Wes Irwin, MD, MS, is founder and medical director at Tahoe Ketamine. With over 15 years of experience in the operating room, Dr. Irwin brings years of clinical experience to the Lake Tahoe area. He is currently on staff at Barton Memorial Hospital, Carson Valley Medical Center, Lake Tahoe Surgery Center and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center. He completed his residency in anesthesiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Inspired by the possibility of helping the thousands of individuals suffering in the Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas, Irwin established Tahoe Ketamine in 2019.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 130 people die from opioid overdoses every day.

Yes, each and every day. Shocked? The opioid crisis has been on a steady rise since 2017, and it was recorded that an estimated 1.7 million Americans were diagnosed with addiction disorders related to their prescription pain relievers. Do you see a pattern and a problem forming simultaneously?

There is a way for you to help stop the above statistics from rising any more; by opting for and spreading the knowledge about non-opioid medications and therapeutic options for treating pain.

Those of you who suffer from chronic pain might consider practicing the “mind over matter” concept by using therapies such as CBT, occupational, and guided meditations to better manage pain symptoms:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy used to switch negative thoughts over to positive ones and, in turn, change the behavior that manifests as a response to certain symptoms. Faye Weinstein, director of pain management psychology at Keck School of Medicine says, “Many people develop this sort of catastrophic thinking about their pain, which actually worsens their pain score.”

Occupational therapy is made to refocus a person on their normal activities and get back into a routine. This “regular” schedule will help keep your attention fixated on the tasks at hand not on the pain. These adaptations take time and will not occur over night, but when combined with other treatments you are now addressing the pain on more than one front creating a more effective treatment plan.

A few non-opioid medications like NSAIDs, antidepressants, local anesthetics and ketamine infusions can also be considered to help decrease addiction and overdose statistics. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen are great for short-term symptom relief, and are effective if you are having a significantly worse day than usual.

These are not meant to be a permanent or long-term solution, as prolonged use could lead to other complications. Some of the pain that chronic pain patients experience stems from the brain and is not localized to a specific area, same as depression or anxiety; therefore, antidepressants may also help to alleviate chronic pain by treating the neurological source of the discomfort.

Local anesthetics, such as topical solutions, creams and oils, are another pain diminishing option, without risk for life-threatening addiction.

One of the most effective non-opioid pain management options is ketamine infusions.

As one of the leading ketamine clinics in California, Tahoe Ketamine has personally seen the amazing relief that ketamine offers those suffering from chronic pain conditions, such as migraine headaches, CRPS, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease and more.

Ketamine is a drug that has been around for many decades now, but over the past 10 years it has gone through multiple scientific tests for its potential to treat mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, as well as chronic pain conditions.

Ketamine infusions are performed under medical supervision at private clinics and is not permitted as a take home medication; this minimizes the risk of dependency dramatically, even though ketamine itself is not a physically addicting substance.

Ketamine works by allowing the brain to repair damaged neural connections, and has provided our patients with long-lasting, rapid symptom relief after a series of infusions.

Are you interested in discovering whether or not you are a potential candidate for ketamine infusions? Please call, Tahoe Ketamine, today for information. Our friendly and professional staff looks forward to hearing from you and joining you on the path to relief.

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