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San Francisco Disc Pain Doctor Concerned: Prescription Back Pain Medication Deaths On The Rise

Posted Jun 02 2009 4:35pm 1 Comment

I am more than concerned about some of the prescription medications that San Francisco herniated disc pain sufferers are telling me they are taking for their back pain. I understand that this is the only way some of them can get through the day, but on the other hand, this could turn out to be a deadly mistake. So, I went online to do a little research to see if there was an increase in prescription pain medication overdoses. Here is the article I found on The Rheumatology News Blog, a great source of information.  I have had many patients stop taking pain medication after the first few sessions on the DRX 9000. There are also other methods of pain control such as guided imagery and acupuncture. Please consider the health consequences of pain medications before you take them.

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Viable alternatives to prescription pain medication: Medical Foods

Dangerous numbers:

In 2009 the report by SAMHSA goes on to state that over 120-million visits were made to nationwide EDs and of these at least 4.5-million were drug/medication related. Drug-related ED visits increased by over 80-percent since 2004. In 2009 estimates of about 2.1-million ED visits resulted from the misuse or abuse of medications. That is about 674 ED visits per 100,000 people per year. Those 20-years old and younger was at a rate of 473 visits and those 21-years and older was double that. Just over thirty-five percent involved pharmaceuticals alone and another 25-percent involved pharmaceuticals plus illicit drugs and/or alcohol. The visits to EDs with side-effects and medical emergencies related to prescription drugs in one fashion or another amounted to 60-percent for that group. While visits remained stable from 2004 to 2009 on medication alone, there was a 117% rise in the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals, and a 97% rise in pharmaceuticals used with illicit drugs.

No matter how you look at it, it is a big national problem. Some of it is avoidable; others pertain to social issues and the rise of illicit drug use in this country. From the perspective of a physician this trend can be reversed if doctors prescribe less medication, are judicious in their use of multiple medications, and use the lowest doses possible that results in goal of therapy. I see too many patients in their 5 th decade of life or greater that are on more than one pharmaceutical (both in the Emergency Department and the wellness clinics I staff). The older they present, often the larger their purse of drugs and therapeutics.

Alternatives to powerful drugs with harmful side effects and strong drug-drug reactions are the more subtle and oftentimes safer herbals and dietary supplements. However, before we proceeded, many dietary supplements and herbals can themselves be linked to drug-herb interactions often as worrisome as we see with two pharmaceuticals interacting.

A more appropriate alternative is the judicious use of ‘’medical foods’’ as alternatives to pharmaceuticals. Medical foods are those that have a nod from the FDA as approved for medicinal use and prescribed by a physician. Medical foods are just that, food or compounds often times amino-acids and natural substances which have been studied to show benefits similar to their more powerful pharmaceutical brothers. The term medicalfood, is defined in section 5(b) of the Orphan Drug Act (1983) as "a food which is formulated to be consumed or administered enterally under the supervision of a physician and which is intended for the specific dietary management of a disease or condition for which distinctive nutritional requirements, based on recognized scientific principles, are established by medical evaluation."
For more on Medical Foods go to an article I have written on the topic:
JP Saleeby, MD
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