June 23, 2016

By Dr. Michael Cooney, Clinical Director

pillsOur country is in the midst of an opiate crisis, with prescription painkillers sometimes serving as a conduit to dependence or even an addiction to these drugs. In some cases, it also opens the door to the use of heroin, an illegal street drug opiate.

Multiple unrelated studies have found that public health crisis may lie in the fact that long-term use of prescription painkillers actually worsens chronic pain. Needing more medication to alleviate pain can (unintentionally) lead to addiction.

Remember that painkillers mask your pain – they don’t treat the root cause.

University of Colorado-Boulder study

A recent study by researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds that a short course of morphine after nerve injury in rats “doubles the duration of neuropathic pain.” The research team discovered that in people, pain and disease in the nervous system are most often treated with opiates, with little evaluation of the long-term consequences of this drug use.

If the results of the rat study hold true in humans, it means morphine initially numbs pain, but it affects glial cells in the nervous system. Those cells start sending out more pain signals to the nerves, prolonging and intensifying the pain timeline. In the rat study, rats treated with morphine took twice as long to recover as a control group – four weeks versus two weeks.

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Medication is not the solution to treating many types of chronic pain. Rather than continuing to focus on our country’s opiate epidemic, let’s focus on Calmare Therapy and other drug-free solutions to treat the root cause of the pain–not just temporarily mask it with prescription drugs.

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facebookListen to Dr. Cooney’s interview on “Aches & Gains” hosted by Dr. Paul Christo

Chronic pain changes the brain

Those suffering from chronic pain (neuropathy), rather than acute pain (short-term), experience changes in their pain receptors. These receptors go into overdrive and respond more easily to pain signals. That means patients feel more pain than nerves are actually sending out.

Initially, opiates provide pain relief and cause the brain to send out endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones. But over time, the brain produces fewer endorphins, so the body’s natural pain relievers are reduced. Patients can become more sensitive to pain, and the opiates become necessary just to feel normal.

It’s a vicious cycle. When longtime users stop taking opiates, they often go through various stages of ‘withdrawal.’

Side effects from painkiller usage decreases quality of life

In the short-term, opiate use may increase drowsiness and affect concentration and personality. Side effects may include nausea and vomiting. Long-term use of painkillers raises the risk of developing additional health issues such as:

  • Compromised immune system
  • Constipation
  • Depression or emotional instability
  • Irregular heart rhythms
  • Decreased interest in socializing and engaging in enjoyable activities
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sleep apnea
  • Dental problems

Not surprisingly, the higher the opiate dosage, the more likely the patient may experience side effects.

Detoxification

If the prescribed painkiller/s is not doing its job, under a doctor’s carefully monitored care, it may be time to wean off the opiates in order to try a drug-free neuropathic pain treatment.  In the short run, it’s difficult. Let me say this again–people trying to detoxify from opiate use should seek professional help and not try to do it on their own. Your doctor can offer treatment to help get you safely through varying degrees of withdrawal symptoms you may encounter.

Why Calmare Scrambler Therapy is an alternative to prescription  pain medication

Calmare leads on back 2_2014Calmare Therapy uses a biophysical (using physical methods to treat biological problems) rather than a biochemical (drugs) approach.

The brain’s reaction to chronic pain can be compared to learning to play the piano or memorizing a poem − the more the body “practices” processing pain, the stronger the connections between pain nerves and the brain become.

Michelle, who came to Calmare Therapy NJ from Australia, describes her experience

When someone is injured, the brain sets up a process to heal the injury. For example, cells carry away dead tissue, or it increases blood flow to the area. Eventually, the brain realizes the injury has healed and it cuts off the pain message.

But for some, the brain never sends that pivotal message saying “there’s no more injury here so you can stop the pain signal.”

This is where the scrambler device comes in—

Using several small electrodes (think EKG) carefully placed in the region of the injury, the Calmare Technology 2012technology sends a mild “no pain” message to the brain through the electrodes.

If you are looking for a drug-free solution to severe chronic pain

If you have unsuccessfully tried “every treatment out there” to lessen or eliminate your neuropathic pain caused by an injury, RSD, CRPS, pain from chemotherapy treatment (CIPN), diabetes, shingles (PHN) or pain after surgery, we welcome an opportunity to tell you more about FDA-cleared scrambler therapy.

Keep in mind, I speak personally with every potential patient before they come for treatment. We will discuss will your full medical history, current medication use, previous pain treatment efforts and your chronic pain treatment expectations.

Fill out the eCard below and we’ll be happy to schedule a phone consultation or our team will reach out to you:

Find out if you may be suitable to undergo Calmare Therapy:

Sources:

www.calmaretherapynj.com

http://www.pnas.org/content/113/24/E3441.abstract

http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2013/11/12/using-morphine-after-abdominal-surgery-may-prolong-pain-cu-boulder

http://thecolemaninstitute.com/treatment-options/chronic-pain-management/faqs

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/04/6-myths-about-painkillers/

 

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