Friday, July 31, 2009

Back Pain and Detoxing from Fentanyl Patches

John came to The Coleman Institute with his wife, Sara this week for a consultation to get off fentanyl patches. He was referred by his physiatrist, a doctor of physical and rehabilitative medicine that John has been working with for the last couple years.

Fentanyl is a powerful opiate that is usually prescribed after patients have gone through the hydrocodones, oxycodones and other strong narcotic pain medicines. It comes in a transdermal form as a patch, emitting medication steadily for 2 to 3 days. Sometimes the medicines are escalated because a person does not have adequate pain relief, sometimes because a person has developed a physical tolerance to an opiate and experiences withdrawal symptoms without an increase in the dose or frequency of medication.

John is a successful businessman; he owns his own company and it’s doing quite well. He and Sara have been married for nine years and he is a devoted stepfather to her two daughters. When he was younger, John was an active athlete and played baseball and football in high school and college. He continued to stay in shape by lifting weights. During a grueling weight lifting session six years ago, John ruptured a disc in his lower back. He ended up having surgery, and his pain saga began.

He has been treated by several physicians and other specialists. He has had physical therapy, injections in his spine and even acupuncture. These modalities help his pain somewhat, but never quite relieve it.

Using strong narcotic medicines seemed to be the only answer. The problem is that although his pain is briefly relieved, the intervals between needing the medicine are shorter and shorter and the doses are higher and higher. Not only that, John’s quality of life is spiraling downward. His wife got tears in her eyes when she talked about how John “used to be” before taking all the narcotics. He now lives in a world with muted responses to all life’s pleasures. He is chronically constipated. His sleep quality is poor.

He chose to go through an accelerated opiate detox and stop using the fentanyl patches.
The reason patients decide to go to such extreme measures is to achieve a better quality of life than what they have, being chronically dependent on narcotic medication.

When the brain has a chance to manufacture its own pain-fighting neurotransmitters, many patients find they can tolerate their discomfort utilizing other types of pain medications that do not produce physical dependence. In fact, by stopping the narcotics, these other treatments are often significantly more effective.

Back pain is an extremely difficult problem to live with, but compounding it with physical dependence on narcotics can severely reduce one’s quality of life. If you or a loved one is struggling with a similar situation, please call us at The Coleman Institute and let us tell you more about how we can help you get your life back.

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