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Unhealthy, Harmful, and Ineffective Pain Management

Pain management techniques fall under two basic categories: Pharmacological and Non-Pharmacological. Pharmacological pain management refers to medication management, while non-pharmacological pain management encompasses a number of drug-free techniques, such as physical therapy, laser therapy, and acupuncture. Surgery is another option.

Long-Term Drug Use
Used as a temporary, short-term response to acute pain, painkilling medications are an excellent option for helping patients get out of pain. The goal with medication management is to help patients feel well enough to address the causes of pain so that drugs will no longer be necessary. However, this is not always how it works. Whether under the care of a medical doctor, or self-medicating with over-the-counter medications, long-term use of medications for pain management is an unhealthy and unproductive strategy.

Painkillers (analgesics) include acetaminophen; opioid drugs such as codeine or oxycodone; and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), a class of drugs which includes aspirin or ibuprofen. Generally speaking, the risks of using such drugs include gastrointestinal bleeding, ulcers, liver and kidney damage, and addiction.

Unnecessary Surgery
For a number of reasons, surgeries—particularly for back pain—are on the rise. This spike in surgeries does not signify a greater need for surgeries, but rather that the perception of surgery as a panacea for back pain is rampant (although incorrect).

Back surgeries are ineffective often enough that the medical community has dubbed the failure of such interventions, ‘Failed Back Surgery Syndrome.’ The World Orthopaedic Organisation reports that there is a 53% failure rate for low back pain surgeries. Even worse, surgery is extremely traumatic and damaging to the body.

It’s true that, as the population ages, there are more back pain patients than ever before. However, there are also a larger number of healthy, conservative treatment options available than ever before.