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the opioid crisis and surgery for chronic pain: brand new research reveals what you may have already suspected



  Just last week, the journal Science carried a study by a team of six physicians, epidemiologists, and statisticians (Changing Dynamics of the Drug Overdose Epidemic in the United States From 1979 through 2016), concluding that the OPIOID EPIDEMIC is not only nothing new, but that overdose deaths from narcotics have been increasing “exponentially” (very different than linearly) for the better part of four decades. 

If you follow my site, you already know that in the same way our national obesity and diabetes epidemics were started in the 70’s & 80’s mostly due to poorly thought out government health policies (HERE), the very same thing is true about the opioid epidemic as well (HERE).

“The U.S. drug overdose epidemic has been inexorably tracking along an exponential growth curve since at least 1979.  Although there have been transient periods of minor acceleration or deceleration, the overall drug overdose mortality rate has regularly returned to the exponential growth curve. This historical pattern of predictable growth for at least 38 years suggests that the current opioid epidemic may be a more recent manifestation of an ongoing longer-term process.

This process may continue along this path for several more years into the future. Paradoxically, there has been substantial variability with which specific drugs have become dominant in varying populations and geographic locales. This variability all but negates the possibility of confident predictions about the future role of specific drugs. Indeed, it is possible that a future overdose epidemic may be driven by a new or obscure drug that is not among the leading causes of drug overdose death today.”

Dr. John Lary, an internist from Huntsville Alabama, commented on an article about this study that was published in MedpageToday (The Opioid Crisis Actually Began 40 Years Ago), stating, “I don’t know the solution to the problem. I do know what is NOT the solution — more government programs, policies, guidelines, and/or regulations.”  Although he is correct, this leads us to ask the question; how big is the problem?

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, published a book back in the summer of 2011 saying that almost 1 in 3 Americans is dealing with CHRONIC PAIN, at an annual cost of (gulp) $635 billion.  Believe me when I tell you that these numbers have not gotten better in the seven years since.

Earlier this month, Pain Medicine carried a meta-analysis of 25 studies (Are Invasive Procedures Effective for Chronic Pain? A Systematic Review) trying to ascertain whether or not surgery was a good choice for various chronic pain syndromes (some of those mentioned included BACK PAIN, NECK PAIN, ABDOMINAL PAIN, KNEE PAIN, MIGRAINE, as well as a number of others.  “There is little evidence for the specific efficacy beyond sham [placebo] for invasive procedures in chronic pain.” 

As you might expect, ADVERSE EVENTS were exceedingly high in studies where they were reported.  One more fun fact from this study was that 87% of the improvement could be attributed to the PLACEBO EFFECT.  In article for Medpage (Surgery for Chronic Pain: Risky and Costly), Christopher Cheney wrote….

“The lead author of the research, Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Samueli Integrative Health Programs at H&S Ventures in Alexandria, Va., said that physicians and chronic pain patients should consider surgery carefully.  Surgery for chronic pain is a prime example of over-utilization of healthcare services and poor care coordination.  There are several options for treating chronic pain that do not involve invasive procedures or addictive medications such as opioids.

“The American College of Physicians, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and many other national bodies have recommended non-pharmacological approaches for the treatment of chronic pain,” he said. “These include acupuncture, yoga, massage, and other such approaches. In addition, behavioral medicine has been demonstrated for many decades to be effective for chronic pain.””

What’s my takeaway from studies like this?  Easy.  Do whatever it takes to diminish SYSTEMIC INFLAMMATORY PROCESSES in your body.  Although it’s far from a “cure all” (some of you may need to see a SPECIALIST IN FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE), I’ve created a post with a generic protocol that has enough “juice” in it to help many of you, arguably most of you, improve your inflammation levels and subsequently improve your health and energy levels (HERE IT IS).  If you like what you’re seeing, be sure to like, share or follow on FACEBOOK as it’s a fantastic way to reach the people you love and care about most.


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