Treating chronic pain without an opioid prescription

By Paul Henry / in , , , , , , , , , /

– When Arizona declared
an opioid emergency, it rolled out new
prescribing guidelines to counter the increasing
number of deaths from prescription opioids. As awareness rises about the
risk these medications pose, so has interest in alternatives
for treating chronic pain. This week in our special
reporting series, Arizona Addicted
reporter Judy Alley looks into some
emerging options. – It was devastating. I could not function, all I wanted to do,
was chew on a shotgun. – [Judy] It was a narcotic
nightmare Joseph Ketterer says he could not wake up from. – Because of my chronic pain, from my exposure to
my military service and also my commercial
diving time, it had caused me to need a
very high dose of Tramadol, Flexeril, and a
few other medicines that had caused me
to go into a state that was spiraling
downward very quickly. – [Judy] Ketterer says
the opioids caused him to gain about 70 pounds and his behavior started
to change for the worse. He says his extreme
highs and lows, caused his marriage to collapse. That’s when he decided
to kick the opioids and try something new. – When I first started
applying CBD topically, I was on seven different
pharmaceutical medications. I don’t take any pharmaceutical
medications today, and that was six years ago. That’s how long it’s taken for
my system to repair itself. – [Judy] Keterrer credits
CBD or cannabidiol, for his miraculous recovery. CBD is the second most
prevalent active ingredient in cannabis or marijuana and
is said to inhibit inflammatory and neuropathic pain
without the high and other side
effects of opioids. – There are a lot
of data that says that CBD has great(mumbles)
relieving qualities. I’m a big fan of the
topical CBD creams. – [Judy] Dr Eric Cornidez of the pain Institute
of Southern Arizona, has met with many
patients looking for alternatives to opioids. – Some patients are not so much physically
depending on these medications, but they’re psychologically
dependent, right? It’s more like a crutch. It’s more like, “This is what I need in
order for me to survive.” – [Judy] Dr Cornidez
says in addition to CBD, he sees some exciting
new developments over the last five years,
including a new medication called ATA 121, which is about to
hit the market. He says it decreases
pain by stimulating and blocking pain receptors without the high
associated with opioids. – This is the one that we use. Same thing, you know– – [Judy] But he believes, the most promising
treatment for pain is neuromodulation therapy. It involves implantable
and non implantable devices that deliver electrical
or chemical agents to modify brain and
nerve cell activity. It’s been around for
decades, he says. But recent
technological advances, have made it a game changer. – We’re no longer manipulating
just to signal pain, but we’re manipulating
the impact that signal has on our
bodies and on our minds too. And that’s amazing. To be able to pinpoint
nerve structures to manipulate that signal here and with minimal side effects. – The nerve stimulator has
completely changed my life. – [Judy] For years, Monica Ibarra suffered from
debilitating chronic back pain. – I was at the point where, (mumbles) get emotional. I didn’t really know
how I could continue on. I was in so much pain,
just I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t even
rest on the couch. – [Judy] She tried opioids,
which made her sick. She tried steroids
and cortisone shots, which had some limited results. Running out of hope,
she finally decided to try neuromodulation
therapy and it was successful. – I really like to work out. I was a big aerobics
person, 1980s style, you know, the leg
warmers and all but never thought I
could do that again. And so now I’m back
on the treadmill and I’m actually running and I never thought
I could run again. – [Judy] She also says, (mumbles) rich plasma therapy has helped with
her muscular pain. And while many of
these new methods are providing
encouraging results and are helping people like
Joseph Ketterer wake up from the debilitating days
brought on by opioids, – I’m ready for active
duty service again, if it’s so needed. – [Judy] Dr Cornidez says it’s
important to be realistic, open-minded and impatient. Because although there’s
a pain relief method for pretty much everyone,
sometimes it takes a while to find the one
that’s right for you.

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