Opioids are the most common treatment prescribed to alleviate pain. For patients struggling with pain from a life-threatening disease like cancer, opioids are a blessing, a relief that can help deal with the severe pain. Opioids can also be used as short-term pain relief for back pain, headaches, injuries, tooth removal, and more but there are alternative pathways to pain relief we should all be considering.
Patients with chronic non-cancer pain that receive high doses of long-acting opioids on a long-term basis, the majority of the patients are dissatisfied with their treatments, especially since the consistent use of opioids for disabling pain can lead to prescription drug abuse, addiction, and overdose deaths.
In December 2018, TIME Magazine published the article “The Opioid Diaries,” a chronicle of photos and stories of patients who got hooked on the drug. TIME called the opioid crisis the worst addiction epidemic in American history. It stated that drug overdose kills more than 64,000 people every year, and that life expectancy in the country has fallen for two years in a row.
Although opioids are effective in pain control, they can be easily misused, and this misuse has led to the drug epidemic gripping the nation. Concern over this epidemic has resulted in a new set of prescribing rules, with some states limiting physicians’ ability to provide opioids for more than a few days.
Clearly, U.S. healthcare requires a more effective, less-lethal pain management solution.
Novel Ways to Treat Pain
In September of 2019, the NIH funded $945M in research to tackle the national opioid crisis through its NIH HEAL Initiative. HEAL stands for “Helping to End Addiction Long-Term” and they’re serious about putting a stop to the crisis since over the past few years we have seen a massive increase in the number of prescriptions, daily doses, and overall opioid availability.
Dr. Amy Baxter, founder, and CEO of Pain Care Labs, believes she has found a way to manage pain effectively without opioids. Pain Care Labs is an industry leader in non-invasive pain relief options. It uses the body’s physiological pain response to stop pain in its tracks. Pain Care Labs offers clinically-proven products that give people power over their pains, eliminating the anxiety that comes with it.
Dr. Baxter invented and patented VibraCool Vibrational Cryotherapy to treat tendinopathies and decrease opiate use. VibraCool’s powerful and focused Oscillice technology stops pain in its tracks. This technology is backed by over 30 clinical trials and cleared by the FDA. It has also been hailed an “Industry Leader and Non-invasive Pain relief” by Frost and Sullivan. The device uses mechanical vibration and temperature to effectively relieve pain in various areas of the body including neck, shoulder, back, feet and more.
Dr. Baxter and her team also wanted to tackle other areas of pain management. Their Buzzy device has been used to control needle pain for over 32 million needle procedures, mostly focused on the pediatric population. She developed her nerve modulation pain reduction platform with a 1.1m grant from the NIH. She has received seven patents and a novel FDA five 10k indication for treating muscle and injection pain.
In my podcast interview with Amy, she shared her thoughts on pain management in US healthcare. She said, “We’ve set up our healthcare system with a paradigm level of one problem equals one solution. And particularly when it comes to pain, there is really nothing that will reduce pain more than about 30 to 40 percent. So that has to be a multi-modal approach to solving the problem. And we’re not set up in that paradigm.” With critical thinking like Dr. Baxter is encouraging us to engage in along with the support of the U.S. government and the NIH, I feel like there’s hope to solve the issues of our national opioid epidemic.
“But I think that as going to traditional healthcare becomes more expensive, more and more people are turning to multiple solutions. So you’ve got people using essential oils, taking supplements…and doing all sorts of things that are not actually going to help. But at least it is changing the paradigm of empowering the patients and having them try multiple different things simultaneously, which probably is going to be the right answer, at least when it comes to pain.” People are fed up with blanket solutions are trying things on their own. If properly guided to the right technologies like the Vibracool device (only $89 and it is reusable) they will be able to achieve success in relieving their pain while not becoming a statistic of the epidemic.
Dr. Baxter’s Buzzy is highly effective in managing pain for people of all ages who are afraid of the needle. VibraCool products are opioid-free, reusable vibrational cryotherapy devices used for treating arthritis, joint pain, muscle strain, tendinitis, and more. Do you have pain and want to learn more about these? Check them out here.
What about severe chronic pain?
She explained, “Mechanical receptors respond best to mechanical stimulation. The body is designed to respond to this kind of a touch stimulus. So the data’s been about two to three times more effective, intense units for relieving pain because that’s really how the body is designed to inhibit pain.”
She shared the story of one of her colleagues who had been an opioid recovery for two decades and had to have a knee replacement. He had put off getting the surgery because he didn’t want to take any opioids and didn’t know if he can tolerate the pain afterward. He used the device and did not take any opioids after surgery.
Patients now have the option to completely avoid opioids, or get a prescription to use for a couple of days, then switch to something natural and drug-free, or go completely opiate-free. Doctors can decrease pain without worrying about possible addiction problems in the future. Dr. Baxter’s patents and work help pain management be more manageable, no matter what age or level of pain a patient is experiencing.
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Setu Vora, MD Chief Medical Officer, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation at
Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
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