With the recent news regarding opioid-related overdoses and new regulations for prescribing these agents, we wanted to share our awareness of various alternatives in helping patients deal with their chronic pain.

Over the decades it has become customary for a patient who exhibits any form of pain to receive, as to what most refer to as, “pain killers.” Although these medications play an essential role in therapy, they are often misused.

The truth is, no one likes to feel pain, much less chronic pain. That feeling is even worse when it’s chronic pain with little to no relief in sight. Many of us turn to over-the-counter (OTC) medications, like ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen; but later learn that’s it’snot a long term fix. Not only do these drugs have their limitations in treating chronic pain, but they also have a significant negative impact on over digestive system, liver and kidneys with extended use.

After repeated rendezvous with OTC meds, we seek help from our primary care prescribers. Which often,have limited capabilities when treating chronic pain. They may or may not offer us a “short-term solution” of using opioid medication to alleviate the pain symptoms. Unfortunately, the use of these drugs often become routine, which leads to potential dependency and misuse.

Opioids are commonly prescribed for pain. An estimated 20% of patients presenting to physician offices with non-cancer pain symptoms or pain-related diagnoses (includingacute and chronic pain) receive an opioid prescription. In 2012,health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for opioid painmedication, enough for every adult in the United States to have abottle of pills.i

Based on the statistics provided by Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the number of opioid-related death has reached astonishing levels and is only predicted to climb up.ii In doing our part with combating this epidemic, we are educating patients and prescribers regarding topical pain management therapy.

Topical Pain Management is designed to allow compounding pharmacists and prescribers to work together in designing a unique formulation for each patient’s needs. Topical pain management provides practitioners the option of treating pain locally with a much less potential of abuse. Many patients with rheumatoid arthritis, pain and aches on extremities are able to reduce or even eliminate the use of their oral pills.

With modern technology, we have the capability of combining multiple medications into one cream, gel or ointment. Why you ask? Each medication has a specific mechanism of action, combining several medications allows us to “tackle” the pain from different angles. Topical pain medication also allows the drug to reach tissue that needs it and avoid systemic side effects experienced when taken orally.

Every individual is unique, and the types of pain experienced can be equally diverse. By working with a compounding pharmacist, your healthcare provider can prescribe treatments tailored specifically for your specific pain management needs.iii

Although topical pain management treatment is a very viable option for patients and prescribers to consider when pain treatment is warranted, it may not be the answer for everyone.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us,we gladly answer any questions you or your physician may have. We look forward to helping each patient find a unique formulation for their needs.

iCDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — UnitedStates, 2016 Recommendations and Reports / March 18, 2016 /65(1);1–49
iiThe Official Website of the Executive Office of Health and HumanServices (EOHHS)
iiiProfessional Compounding Centers of America (PCCA)