14 Medications Pain Doctors Avoid—and You Should Too

By | January 26, 2019

Opioids

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“The misuse of opioids—codeine, oxycodone, fentanyl, hydromorphone, and morphine, to name a few—has resulted in the taking of approximately 115 American lives every day, quadrupling since 1999. Not only do opioid medications have addictive potential, but they also have significant side effects, such as drowsiness, depressed cognitive function, constipation, suppressed sexual drive, and suppression of one’s immune system. Although in some cases using opioid medications may be appropriate, I always emphasize the usage of the newer, safer non-medication treatments for pain. I have found PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic field) therapy to be extremely effective. It works at the cellular level to accelerate the body’s ability to repair injured cells. One device that possesses PEMF, which I recommend to patients, is called Oska Pulse. It’s a drug-free pain-relief device that reduces inflammation, increases circulation, improves mobility, and, ultimately, alleviates pain. [It] has no known side effects and can be used on-the-go as often as needed.” Jonathan Kost, MD, medical director of the Hartford Hospital Pain Treatment Center and the Spine and Pain Institute at Midstate Medical Center, and a member of the Oska Wellness medical advisory board

Ambien and Lunesta

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“Patients with chronic pain often experience significant difficulty falling or staying asleep. Some estimate this overlap to occur in 60 to 80 percent of pain patients. Therefore, sleep medication is commonly prescribed. But I would never take—and I never prescribe—prescription sleep medication like Ambien or Lunesta. These medications have been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. My alternative is using high-dose magnesium threonate, up to 1 gram, to help induce restful sleep before bed. This form of magnesium also has the added benefit of improving brain health and function in the long run and can even mildly boost mood. If my patients need some extra help with sleep, I will prescribe 200–400 mg of theanine, a calming amino acid that can help reduce anxiety and induce restful sleep when taken right before bedtime.” —Dr. Vojdani. Here are 20 things you do before bed that sabotage your sleep.

Steroids

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“This is controversial and case dependent, and I, of course, commonly use steroids in my practice as a very strong anti-inflammatory. Steroids can be prescribed as an injection or pills, and can rapidly reduce inflammation and be very helpful with extreme inflammation, as in cases of pinched nerves and arthritis. However, this is a heavy-duty drug that should not be overused. Repeated usage of steroid injections can lead to a weakening of the tissue, and oral steroid usage has been associated with cases of reduced blood supply that can damage the bones…so I would try to avoid them, though I would consider a short-term dose if I had a severe problem. While there are some conditions that require long-term steroid usage—such as autoimmune disorders like lupus—patients should always inform their doctors if they have had steroid injections or treatments in the past to avoid multiple uses for minor sprains and strains.” Miho J. Tanaka, MD, director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Program and associate professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, at the Johns Hopkins Hospital

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