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Why Your Doc Might Advise Pain Management Over Corticosteroids

Why Your Doc Might Advise Pain Management Over Corticosteroids

While many of our patients come to us on their own, there are those who make appointments with our clinics based on a recommendation from their primary care physicians. Their doctors advise pain management over relying solely on pharmacological treatments. Why would a doctor do that?

Prescription medications are often the frontline treatment for chronic pain. Among the many choices are corticosteroids, a class of prescription medications well known for their anti-inflammatory properties. Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and other conditions.

If you have been on corticosteroids for a while and have been urged by your GP to see a pain management physician instead, heed that advice. There are particularly good reasons for being cautious about long-term corticosteroid use.

Every Pain Management Medication Has Side Effects

Corticosteroids are generally safe when prescribed according to standards and guidelines. But like any other prescription medication, corticosteroids do have their side effects. Over time, those side effects can lead to other health conditions – some of which can be serious.

Conversely, pain management physicians are trained to utilize a variety of treatments over and above prescription medications. This is not to say that a pain management doctor will not write a prescription. It is to say that the doctor will be fully versed in other treatments as well. This is beneficial for patients in that they have more options.

Just as an example, one of the options we look at here at KindlyMD is the Utah Medical Card. It is a state-issued card that gives patients access to certain plant-based medicines. The medicines aren't appropriate for every condition under the sun. However, they are appropriate for pain management.

Long-Term Corticosteroid Concerns

Getting back to the original topic, there are consequences associated with corticosteroids. Using corticosteroids for a short time isn't likely to have a long-lasting impact on the body. But long-term use is another issue. In the long term, corticosteroids can contribute to:

  • Osteoporosis – Osteoporosis is a condition characterized by weak and brittle bones. Corticosteroids can contribute to it.
  • Infection Risk – Some corticosteroids can suppress the immune system to a certain degree. This could lead to a higher risk of infection.
  • Blood Sugar – Some corticosteroids can also elevate blood sugar levels. This increases the chances of developing diabetes.
  • Cataracts – Long-term use of corticosteroids can increase the risk of developing cataracts.

It is important to note that not every patient who uses corticosteroids long-term will be impacted by the potential side effects. In fact, most patients will not. But if your doctor recommends dialing back the corticosteroids in favor of a pain management strategy, they may believe you are at greater risk for complications.

A More Holistic Approach

As a general rule, pain management tends to take a more holistic approach to dealing with chronic pain. That is certainly our philosophy at KindlyMD. Our goal isn't to simply to cover up the pain and make it more bearable. It is to help patients feel better by managing their pain, and its root causes, through a variety of treatments and strategies.

Everything from the Utah Medical Card to physical therapy and mental health assistance is on the table here. We believe in the holistic approach. We believe that a person's physical, mental, and emotional health are all intrinsically connected.

If your doctor recommends you see a pain management specialist so that you can dial back the corticosteroids, heed that advice. There are very good reasons for such a recommendation. And if you live here in Utah, we hope you will consider visiting the pain management specialists here at KindlyMD.

By KindlyMD
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