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Among all the developments for easing chronic pain, the use of opioids is one of the most popular. Opioids can be prescribed as medication to reduce and block pain signals. Some opioids have been around for centuries and some developed just a few decades ago. Despite being classified as a method for medication, opioids have also been labeled as a danger to people’s lives, especially in the United States.

The growing addiction to opioids is a critical problem that affects the health, economic, and social welfare of society. In the United States, an estimated number of 2.1 million people are hurting from substance abuse disorders associated to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012. The total figure of opioid pain relievers that were prescribed in the United States has increased in the past 25 years.

Opioids - moving towards VR

Abusing opioids can make someone stop breathing and can lead ultimately to death. Addiction is more common among people who have been taking them for a longer period of time. Physicians in the U.S. often use prescription medication such as opioids to relieve pain, however this has been occurring to greater degrees, resulting in a number of people addicting to medications that they no longer need but continue to use.

“Our guideline has taken a step back and focused on a number of situations in which we feel the prescribing of opioids should be either carefully considered, or not occur at all”

Vikesh Singh, Assistant Professor, of Medicine and Director of the Pancreatitis Center at Johns Hopkins University, said that “If you include Canada and Western Europe [ consumption of global opioid supply] increases to 95 percent, so the remaining countries only have access to about 5 percent of the opioid supply.”

Canadian Medical Association Journal referenced that Canadian doctors should only prescribe opioids to treat just distinct cases of chronic pain and should attempt to disengage their patients off the potentially addictive drugs. According to Jason Busse, Associate Professor of Anesthesia at McMaster University in Hamilton, “Our guideline has taken a step back and focused on a number of situations in which we feel the prescribing of opioids should be either carefully considered, or not occur at all.”

Chronic pain is a sickness that needs to be addressed in a careful manner.  In order to avoid the use of prescription drugs to alleviate pain, other developments are gaining traction to achieve better and safer results. Methods include the use of Radiofrequency Ablation or RFA. It aims for the nerves that send pain signals to the brain. RFA is known to ease neuropathy and arthritis. According to WebMD, Radiofrequency Ablation can also reduce hip and lower back pain. There have also been bold strides in the use of virtual reality to treat pain. It is bold ideas such as these that will help shift treatment away from prescription drugs, and towards a successful and long-term solution.