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Article

Opioid Alternatives for Chronic Pain

Monday, November 30th 2020 1:08am 8 min read
The Institute for Functional Medicine instituteforfxmed

We inspire practitioners to rediscover their passion for medicine and patients to take active ownership of their health through Functional Medicine.

Approximately 20% of adults (~50 million) in the US are affected by chronic pain, defined as pain on most days or every day in the past six months. In addition, an estimated 8% of US adults (~20 million) experience high-impact chronic pain, which limits life or work activities for the same duration.1 “For millions of people across the globe, excruciating pain is an inescapable reality of life,” writes Allyn L. Taylor in a 2007 article published in The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics.2 Does it have to be this way?

Many turn to opioids for relief. However, research shows that the extended prescription of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain has questionable benefits and significant risks that include the following:3

  • Constipation and abdominal pain
  • Tolerance – physiologic adaptation
  • Physiologic dependence and withdrawal
  • Opioid misuse
  • Depression
  • Hormonal dysregulation
  • Opioid-induced hyperalgesia
  • Cardiovascular events
  • Suppressed breathing and accidental overdose

In the article below, we explore some nonpharmacological treatments to chronic pain, which include targeting the mitochondria and modifying diet.

Opioid alternative – targeting mitochondria

Our objectives are to recognize the process of how centralized pain syndromes develop, to recall the key metabolic factors that influence chronic pain states, and to apply the Functional Medicine Timeline and Matrix in the assessment and treatment of these syndromes.

— IFM Educator Lisa Portera-Perry, DC

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