DISC Sports & Spine Center Pain Management Expert Dr. Michael Port Issues Statement on Treating Chronic Pain Without Opioids

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To Help Prevent Opioid Dependence, Patients Must Fully Understand the Definition of Chronic Pain and All Treatment Options Available to Them.

Dr. Michael Port, Board-Certified Pain Management Expert & Anesthesiologist

Opioids are NOT great for chronic pain because your body becomes accustomed and accommodates to the drugs very quickly. What was great on Week 1 becomes not so effective on Week 2 or Week 3 and actually starts to have a lot of bad side effects.

On an almost-daily basis, new headlines, documentaries and studies illuminate the dangers of the growing opioid addiction sweeping the nation. Yet, chronic pain sufferers continue to receive mixed messages, as opioid manufacturers put out the message that chronic pain can be treated easily and safely by opioids, despite such compelling evidence that long-term opioid use can lead to physical dependency.

Responding to this troubling epidemic, Dr. Michael Port, a double-board certified pain management specialist at DISC Sports & Spine Center, has issued a statement, maintaining that it’s vital for patients to have a full understanding of the definition of chronic pain and all treatment options available to them, especially those with the ability to successfully relieve their symptoms without opioids.

As Dr. Port explains, chronic pain is not neatly defined, but can be most simply understood by the presence of two components. To be diagnosed as chronic, a patient’s pain must typically last longer than three to six months or be non-physiologic, non-functional in nature. In the human body, pain serves a purpose, usually to let the body know something is wrong. For instance, if you break your arm, your body sends signals to the brain alerting it that damage has been done. Non-physiologic, non-functional pain is any pain that doesn’t serve a purpose or has outlasted the duration of the injury. In this scenario, the arm has healed, but the pain persists.

“Opioids are effective, amazing medications when used for very specific purposes, such as short-term, acute, nociceptive, physiologic types of pain,” clarifies Dr. Port. “This means you broke your arm, you had surgery. You take it for a week, and when the pain goes away, you stop the narcotics. All is good.

“On the flipside, opioids are NOT great for chronic pain because your body becomes accustomed and accommodates to the drugs very quickly. What was great on Week 1 becomes not so effective on Week 2 or Week 3 and actually starts to have a lot of bad side effects. So, when do you use narcotics for chronic pain? Hopefully sparingly, intermittently or not at all.”

For Dr. Port, the first and most important step when treating someone suffering from chronic pain is to make the correct diagnosis, which also means checking for previously undiagnosed or misdiagnosed conditions. This includes ruling out any underlying conditions that may be treatable, such as infections, cancer or a degenerative arthritic issue. Defining the source of the chronic pain is a critical step in treating it, because this work may lead to an array of treatment options including rehabilitation, surgery, interventional therapy, psychological therapy, other pharmacologic options or complimentary medicine, such as acupuncture and soft tissue/chiropractic treatment.    

When a patient suffers from chronic pain and the source of the pain cannot be identified, Dr. Port emphasizes that there are several classes of medicine that aren’t opioids or habit forming drugs. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids or epidurals can all be used to manage pain long term without exposing the patient to the risk of dependency.    

About DISC Sports & Spine Center
DISC Sports & Spine Center (DISC) is California’s premier medical group providing the full scope of sports medicine, spinal care, orthopedics, pain management and conservative treatments. DISC has set a new standard for high-acuity, minimally invasive spine surgery and arthroscopy in an outpatient setting, both safely and on a more cost-effective basis. In partnership with Surgical Care Affiliates (SCA), one of the nation’s leading surgical care companies, DISC operates state-of-the-art outpatient surgery centers in Marina Del Rey and Newport Beach. Both centers are accredited by the AAAHC, have a zero MRSA infection rate and are conveniently located next to major freeways and airports. DISC, which accepts most major insurance plans, is also the official medical services provider for Red Bull. For more information, contact 866-481-DISC, or visit http://discmdgroup.com.

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Kristien Brada-Thompson
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