Safely Managing Your Pain

We understand that managing your pain is a very important part of your care. Your doctor may prescribe medications or treatments to help minimize your pain. Additionally, our Henry Ford Pain Center provides a comprehensive range of therapies and works closely with other specialty services to develop a pain management plan tailored to your condition. It’s important that you discuss all your pain control options with your doctor and carefully consider the risk and benefits of these powerful drugs.

No one should face the challenges of addiction alone. Our team of addiction providers in Behavioral Health Services will work with you and your loved ones to develop a personalized, effective treatment plan. Your treatment plan and level of care are based on evidence gathered during the assessment phase and the latest scientific research in addiction.

What is an opioid?

Opioids are highly addictive drugs that act on the brain to alleviate pain. These medications are often prescribed to relieve pain after a serious injury or surgery. Commonly prescribed opiate painkillers are Vicodin, morphine, oxycodone, Tylenol with codeine and tramadol.

For patients with serious, long-term pain conditions, such as cancer, opioids may be the best treatment option. You should still be aware of alternative options and safe use of these potent medications. Patients using opioids for chronic pain are not limited to seven-day prescriptions. Larger quantities or a longer duration may be needed. It is important to discuss your treatment plan with your doctor.

The risk of addiction

In fact, Michigan is one of the top 10 states for opioid abuse. Addiction to these medications often starts when they are prescribed by a doctor. Even when used as directed, the risk of a patient becoming addicted to opioid medications is high.

Know your options

There are many other effective choices for pain control beside opioid medications. Many treatments may work better for your individual needs and have fewer side effects. Options to discuss with your doctor include:

  • Over the counter medication. Medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and aspirin can often be as or more effective than opioids.
  • Medication injections. This is often used for hip, knee, shoulder or back pain.
  • Physical therapy, including specialized exercises as well as the use of heat and cold packs.
  • Weight reduction and exercise. Maintaining a healthy weight and staying active has been shown to decrease pain. Even a 10 percent reduction in excess weight can help reduce aches and pain.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Known as CBT, this behavioral techniques can teach you helpful ways to think about and manage your pain.
  • Antidepressants.
  • Alternative medicine. Acupuncture, massage therapy or other integrative medicine treatments are very effective for muscle, joint and back pain.
  • Dietary changes. Changing your diet or eliminating certain foods can reduce body inflammation and joint pain.

Set treatment goals

Work closely with your doctor to set pain management goals. Develop a treatment plan to help you achieve your goals. Use opioids only when necessary and when the benefit is greater than the risk. Determine your goals as it relates to what activities do you want to do such as walking a flight of stairs or playing sports.

6 steps for preventing opioid misuse

  • Never take more than the amount of medication prescribed.
  • Take as needed, but not regularly. Let your pain level, not the clock, dictate your next dose when the time comes.
  • Never take opioids with alcohol, valium-like drugs or sleeping pills.
  • Store opioids in a safe and secure place, out of sight and reach of others, especially young adults, children and pets...
  • Never share or sell your medications.
  • Dispose of unused medications properly.

Safe disposing of medications

It’s important that medications be discarded safely. Discarding them safely helps decrease misuse of medicine. Do Not flush them down the toilet or give them to other people. These options include:

  • Drop-off bins at several of our pharmacies in the metro Detroit area. 
    • The following medications are accepted: Prescriptions, prescription ointments, pet medications, prescription patches, over-the-counter medicines and vitamins
    • The following are NOT accepted: Needles, inhalers, aerosol cans, thermometers, lotions and liquids
  • Return any unused pills to an authorized collector.
  • Ask your local police department about upcoming medication take-back events.
  • Purchase a safe opioid disposal bag from your pharmacy. You can use these bags to dispose of unused pills safely at home.

For questions or concerns about your opioid prescription, contact your doctor who prescribed your pain medication. If you think you may have an opioid addiction or are concerned about a family member’s opioid use, call our Behavioral Health Services at (800) 422-1183 or visit www.henryford.comOpioidAddiction.

Take the next step

Let us help you schedule an appointment, call (800) 436-7936.


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