You may be questioning whether or not physicians are really treating pain aggressively (see #10 of the Top 10 Reasons Pain Medication Use Is Increasing). Relatively recently, pain was declared the "fifth vital sign," which means that, along with heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure and temperature, healthcare providers are supposed to evaluate pain levels. What does that mean for you - the patient who goes for help, only to walk away still in pain? Relief is trickling your way.
"Trickling" is the effect that medical training has on the entire medical community. For example, most small- to medium-sized towns have medical doctors who were trained over 15 years ago. These doctors may not be up to speed with the surge of pain management techniques and tools that are becoming available. Just 10 years ago, many teaching hospitals were only training doctors to prescribe hydrocodone (Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, etc); beyond that, the doctors threw their hands in the air or blamed the patient.
As new techniques and methods are accepted into mainstream medical practice, this information trickles down through the ranks of doctors. Mandates for continuing medical education in the area of pain management merely give doctors the tip of the education iceberg. Even still, some doctors are steadfast against adequately treating pain. This philosophy forces patients towards the unsafe use of medications obtained by prescriptions and on the streets.
What allows doctors to cling to the old ways? Quite simply, a few rotten apples ruin the basket. Addiction is a very real and growing problem. In turn, the dishonest behavior of a few people in every clinic can give any doctor a bad taste for prescribing pain relievers. Fortunately, newer drugs are coming to the market that will insure against improper use and allow for safer pain management. As more and more doctors are becoming comfortable with the issues in treating pain, relief is trickling your way. Until then, you may have to travel or change doctors in order to find solutions. Just don't give up because feeling better is worth fighting for.
Published On: June 18, 2008