Stop Medication or Not. Back Pain Lower Back and Neck.

by Richard A. Convery

Should sufferers of neck or back pain stop taking medication when they embark on a rehabilitation program? This is a question I’m often asked, and the answer is an emphatic one. It’s an emphatic ‘YES’, as well as an emphatic ‘NO’. Hypocrisy! Contradiction! Confusion! Yes, that could well be true, especially when all you really want are some straight answers to some of your straight questions on a subject that has probably already caused you a ship-load of unwanted grief. There is some wisdom to this double-barrelled answer though, so let’s try to remain friends and spend a few moments to unravel the issue so that a clearer way forward hopefully falls within reach.

Without realising it has happened, the body can develop a dependency upon pain-reducing medication, even to the point of unintended addiction. When the medication is suddenly withdrawn, the body often responds in a disturbing manner. This is compounded by the fact that many people metabolise at differing rates, and in differing ways, and there is generally a substantial discrepancy in the way withdrawal of medication is likely to manifest, especially when done abruptly. Medication is so often purely a mask for pain, and so when that mask is removed, the underlying trauma still remains, leaving the sufferer at a considerably higher risk of further pain.

Without stating the obvious, the source of the pain must be addressed before the need for the mask might become redundant. Having just possibly made a superfluous and pointless remark, the point still should be made that the continuation of medication can be beneficial, at least in the short term, even when the underlying cause of the trauma has been established and removed. A controlled reduction of the intake may be necessary to allow the body to adapt to the removal of these stimuli.

Considering the fact that I have included in the title of both my books the phrase ‘how to dramatically reduce your neck/back pain WITHOUT PILLS, equipment or $money$’, a reader might assume that I have, at least temporarily, gone suddenly soft on this issue of medication. The fact of the matter is that many sufferers have, over a period of time, unwittingly become so addicted to the medication that to withdraw its influence too rapidly might prove to be as great an obstacle as the original problem itself, even as previously stated after the problem has been brought under control. Drugs, particularly when used in tandem with other drugs introduced for other problems, regularly represents a major problem to manage. It goes without saying that even allowing for the undisputed objective of becoming free of prescribed or illicit drugs, any policy of wholesale withdrawal of such stimuli would likely prove a seriously rocky road to follow.

So, what is wise? Glad you asked. A number of factors need to be considered. For example; the sufferer’s intensity of pain, the duration of the pain, the sufferer’s age, associated physical and other on-going demands, and the sufferer’s emotional stability at the time. When considering a person who might have experienced major pain trauma over many years, coupled with a history of failed attempts to rehabilitate, and the on-going need to perform physically-demanding activities on a regular basis, a regime of temporary continuation of medication might not only be wise but appropriate.

And now for the flip side; from various parts of the world, I regularly receive testimonials from sufferers who describe in great detail their own similar circumstances, yet have personally chosen to go cold-turkey from medication with great effect. When specifically asked by purchasers of either of my books via my facility known as FLECS [Free Lifetime Email Consultation Service], I generally suggest that the most effective and responsible approach is for a sufferer to continue with prescribed medication until a sustainable pattern begins to emerge in which the degree of pain has been consistently and predictably reduced. At that point, the sufferer might choose to suspend the intake of medication on a frequency that might be one day in three, or possibly one day in two, and then monitor the response.

During the following weeks and months, a gradual withdrawal could be undertaken, monitored closely, however keeping in reserve a possible need for reinstatement of the medication should an unexpected set-back or complication occur. Over the ensuing six to twelve months, and when a sustainable and predictable pattern has emerged, the decision to curtail the reliance upon medication can then be made with a higher degree of wisdom and optimism.

That might be a long-winded way to say ‘hasten slowly’, especially in light of the longed-for goal of kicking the unwanted pill-popping habit, but please never forget that we aim to be a long time recovered, so to get there in an orderly and systematic manner, even when we suddenly feel all pumped-up and gung-ho to flush the drugs down the S-bend, we should indeed ‘hasten slowly,’ or we potentially run the risk of being forced back to base-camp to climb this mountain at least one more time. Neck and back pain, for so many sufferers worldwide, can be beaten, and as unpalatable as it might seem right now, temporary use of medication just might help you get there.

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