It’s no secret that opioids and have gotten a bad wrap in recent years. A number of studies in the U.S. and U.K have raised alarm bells over harmful side effects, overprescription, and lack of effectiveness in treating chronic pain when compared to safer alternatives.

In a recent JAMA study, opioids were found to be no more effective than nonopioid medications for improving pain. The study concluded that “results do not support initiation of opioid therapy for moderate to severe chronic back pain or hip or knee osteoarthritis pain.”1

Despite concerns about efficacy, opioid use has steadily increased over the past 20 years along with the number of prescription opioid overdose deaths worldwide.4 This has lead many to consider it a global health crisis.

Why You Should Care

You’re likely to experience pain at some point in your life. If you suffer from acute pain, it typically lasts only a few weeks to a few months. If it persists longer than 12 weeks, then it’s considered chronic pain. Chronic pain can continue well after the injury or illness that caused it has healed or gone away.

There’s an estimated 100 million adults in the U.S. who suffer from chronic pain.2 Unfortunately, chronic pain is resistant to most medical treatments. Complicating matters, a person may have two or more coexisting chronic pain conditions such fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, endometriosis, or inflammatory bowel disease making it that much harder to diagnose and treat.3 Other risk factors include age, joint injuries, past surgeries or weakened immune system.

If you’re experience chronic pain, the odds of being prescribed opioids by your doctor have more than quadrupled since 1999. One out of five patients with a pain-related diagnosis were prescribed opioids in 2012, and the rate has steadily climbed since.

Doctors reluctant to prescribe opioids have turned to NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen or meloxicam for pain management. However, recent studies have have also linked NSAIDs to harmful side effects including significant increased risk of heart attack or stroke. These side effects can occur as early as the first few weeks of using an NSAID, and the risk may increase over time.9

Alternatives to Opioids and NSAIDs

Increased dependency, overdose deaths, and lack of efficacy has led many doctors to seek alternative therapies for their patients.

One approach gaining momentum is the use of medical foods, which are formulated for the “dietary management of a disease or condition for which distinctive nutritional requirements, based on recognized scientific principles, are established by medical evaluation.” (source: FDA)

To understand the benefits of medical foods, it’s important to recognize that chronic pain is a disease of the nervous system, altering nutrient, amino acid and neurotransmitter metabolism.

Over the past decade, scientific research has focused on the underlying physiologic changes created by chronic pain and has revealed that specific amino acid based medical foods can improve the body’s ability to reduce pain and inflammation from within.5

“Theramine addresses the metabolic changes associated with chronic pain, and fills the void that pharmaceuticals cannot address.” – Dr. Silver

Medical foods like Theramine, Trepadone and Percura have over a decade of clinical success reducing pain, inflammation and improving the daily function of patients with chronic pain. These drug-free products are specially designed to supply the nervous system with the fuel it needs to meet the increased demands of chronic pain, and have been shown in multiple clinical trials to be effective without dangerous side effects.6, 7, 8

A leading proponent of medical foods is Dr. David Silver, M.D., recognized pain management specialist, author, and former Clinical Chief of Rheumatology at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

“The biggest challenge for both patients and physicians is finding a therapy that works to alleviate the issues caused by chronic pain without causing harmful side effects,” said Dr. Silver, who currently serves as Chief Medical Officer at Targeted Medical Pharma Inc.. “Theramine addresses the metabolic changes associated with chronic pain, and fills the void that pharmaceuticals cannot address.”

What’s Next?

New legislation is being crafted to crack down on opioid abuse at a national level. Meanwhile, states such as Arizona have taken the lead in enacting their own laws limiting prescriptions and the number of refills allowed.

Given the current climate, it’s a good bet that additional regulations are on the horizon that will severely restrict a doctor’s ability to prescribe opioids to their patients at will. As a result, we’re likely to see a radical paradigm shift in the coming years favoring more natural and holistic approaches to pain management.

1) Effect of Opioid vs Nonopioid Medications on Pain-Related Function in Patients With Chronic Back Pain or Hip or Knee Osteoarthritis Pain: The SPACE Randomized Clinical Trial. 2) Relieving Pain in America: A Blueprint for Transforming Prevention, Care, Education, and Research. 3) NIH – Chronic Pain Information 4) https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing.html 5) AMJ – Reduction in Pain and Inflammation Associated With Chronic Low Back Pain With the Use of the Medical Food Theramine 6) A Double-Blind Controlled Trial of a Single Dose Naproxen and an Amino Acid Medical Food Theramine for the Treatment of Low Back Pain 7) Reduction in Pain and Inflammation Associated With Chronic Low Back Pain With the Use of the Medical Food Theramine 8) Theramine (A Medical Food) Versus Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory Agents in Elderly Patients: A Pharmacoeconomic Analysis 9) The Benefits and Risks of Pain Relievers: Q & A on NSAIDs with Sharon Hertz, M.D.

Douglas is a leading technologist & key strategist with more than two decades experience in the health care and manufacturing industries.

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