Health & Safety

February 28, 2014

AFMC promotes chronic pain management awareness

Greg Chadwick
AFMC Wellness Support Center

During the month of March, Air Force Materiel Command will promote Chronic Pain Management Awareness. Chronic pain is American’s biggest health problem. It affects more individuals than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined, according to the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies.

Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts more than three months, or pain that continues when it should not. Examples would include: arthritis, cancer, and low back pain. Chronic pain can adversely affect an individual’s well-being, and may cause emotional distress with thoughts of fear, despair, and hopelessness.

It is important to see a physician as soon as possible when suffering from chronic pain because†the condition could worsen if left untreated. The primary goal of pain management is to reduce any disability caused by the pain. Treatment can be divided into three categories:

  • Physical (e.g. physical therapy)
  • Psychological (e.g. relaxation methods)
  • Pharmacological (i.e. medicines)

The treatment of persistent pain may involve one, two or all three of these categories. The use of pain relievers and other medications are the most common methods of treatment.

While medications can help relieve symptoms, there is a risk for some patients to develop dependency or other serious side effects due to misuse or abuse. Prolonged use of opioid (narcotic) pain medications such as oxycodone (OxyContinÆ), and hydromorphone (DilaudidÆ) increase the possibility of adverse reactions including: gastrointestinal distress, internal organ problems, sexual dysfunction, and endocrine problems.

A life threatening side effect is respiratory depression.

“More people die from overdoses of prescription opioids than from all other drugs combined, including heroin and cocaine,” said Steven Callon, Air Force Materiel Command Drug Demand Reduction Manager.

If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription drug dependency or misuse, assistance is available. Civilian employees may contact the Employee Assistance Program for free, confidential counseling services at (800) 222-0364 or visit the EAP website at www.foh4you.com.

Active-duty personnel can contact their local installation Alcohol Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program (ADAPT), or Primary Care Manager. Military OneSource is another option for military members, spouses, and dependents. For more information, call (800) 342-9647 or visit www.militaryonesource.com.

Civilian Health Promotion Services will be offering classes on chronic pain management during the month of March. Attendees of the class will receive a self-care handbook on managing pain. For more information on class times and location, contact your local CHPS team or visit www.AFMCwellness.com.




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