A government effort to crack down on prescription drug abuse must not exacerbate the undertreatment of chronic pain.
The Bush administration last month unveiled a strategy to fight a frightening escalation in the illegal diversion and misuse of prescription drugs. This is, of course, an essential goal. But policy-makers engaged in this effort must address a fundamental paradox.
While the government estimates that 6.2 million Americans abuse prescription drugs (often opioid painkillers), an untold number of the many millions of Americans who experience chronic pain are undertreated for that pain. Some of the methods used to control drug abuse make physicians fearful of prescribing opioid painkillers for patients who truly need these medications.
That is why any attempt to clamp down on prescription drug abuse must not discourage patients and physicians from appropriately treating chronic pain. The federal initiative can achieve this balance if carried out properly.
President Bush's strategy includes a crackdown on rogue Internet pharmacies selling controlled substances illegally, an increase in the number of state prescription monitoring programs, and wider dissemination of educational and training materials to physicians authorized to prescribe controlled substances.
I have found it helpful to do the stretching exercises my physical therapist recommends. Do some core strengthening exercises, such as the ones highlighted at The Mayo Clinic. By keeping your core strong, your back won't put itself in a position to cause that sciatica pain you are having.