Florida has made strong progress in driving unethical pill mill doctors and drug dealers from the state, but many Floridians still suffer from chronic pain. A new documentary from the Discovery Channel features a South Florida doctor who says drug addiction and pain management often go hand in hand.
Dr. Melanie Rosenblatt is director of pain management at Broward Health North in Deerfield Beach. In the hour-long documentary “Pain Matters,” she explains that understanding addiction is crucial to pain management. She says that doctors need to consider all options when treating pain patients, not just high doses of opiates, which can actually make pain worse in the long run.
Alternative and complementary treatments include nerve blockers, surgery, behavioral and psychological therapy, spinal cord stimulators, physical therapy, exercise, topical treatments, and non-opiate medications like muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories.
The documentary covers six patients who struggled with and overcame chronic pain, including a two-time Stanley Cup-winning hockey player and an injured Iraq war veteran.
Before the state’s pill mill crackdown, Florida was home to clinics dispensing astronomical amounts of of pain pills—to legitimate patients, addicts, and drug dealers from all over the country. Their numbers have dwindled, but Rosenblatt points out that some doctors still prescribe addictive narcotics such as oxycodone in amounts she calls “egregious.”
Chronic pain can be devastating to patients and their loved ones. Increased awareness of alternative treatments and the dangers of addiction hopefully will lead to less need for narcotic painkillers.