Dealing with Pain…Part 1…the Problem

When I look back I realize that I have dealt with and lived with pain for most of my life…

As a really young kid I experienced frequent ear infections and had horrible pain associate with those and the procedures I went through over and over trying to “fix” them. 

When I grew older (Junior High and High school) I played multiple sports and I consistently sprained my ankles.  I would find out later in life that I had a malformation in both ankles that limited certain movements and also made a couple of my ligaments way too long so it was (and still is) super easy to sprain them….so I had pain all through athletics.

Then my freshman year of high school I fractured a bone in my low back in a jet ski accident.  That started me down the journey of awful lower back pain that would eventually lead me into choosing Chiropractic as an actual career. 

So it’s interesting to look back and realize all the days of pain I went through growing up that prepped me and the Lord was using to train me for when I shattered my femur in 2017 due to a benign tumor in my leg….long story I’ll tell you another time.

Pain control and pain management is a huge industry in America…understandably.  No one likes to be in pain.  Pain can ruin your day and over time can literally re-wire your brain and wreck your life. 

In a study ( ) released in September 2018, the Centers for Disease Control stated that over 20% of adults in America (50 million) suffer from “Chronic Pain” and over 8% (19.6 million) suffer from “High Impact Chronic Pain”….pain that frequently limits work and life activities.  That’s tragic at best and terrifying at worst. 

That study doesn’t even take into account teens and children with pain and others suffering or being treated for acute pain and injuries or the amount of people who check into emergency rooms for pain in America. 

It’s an epidemic of epic proportions…

Unfortunately, there are very limited options from the medical field to help people deal with pain….especially chronic pain.  The first line recommendation is of course medication, but quickly following that are Opiod medications.  Even in the CDC’s “Non-Opioid” recommendation PDF ( there are very few non-opioid recommendations anyway and almost every one of those are other medications.  Recommendations that do not involve medications comprise of “Patient Education”and then exercises & weight loss.  They do mention Acupuncture and massage at the end of one of the sections almost as an afterthought.

In March of 2017 I fell at a water park in Florida and due to a benign tumor residing in my leg (unbeknownst to me) I shattered my femur and found myself in the hospital waiting for major reconstruction surgery.  I can’t describe to you the amount of pain I experienced over the next few weeks.  My situation was not that different from many other people who end up in the medical system for injury or other issues and in serious pain.  I was prescribed Opioids for pain and after questioning the surgeon about possible addiction long term he replied, “There are worse things to deal with…”  

He was wrong…

Coming off of the pain meds a couple weeks post surgery (by accident or God’s provision…either way it wasn’t my choice) was a unique journey into the worst hell I’ve ever experienced.  I was only on the meds for 6 total weeks but due to the high doses and my natural addictive nature….it took me 2 weeks to get off of them (still a miracle after I studied it) and I lost almost 20 pounds in the process and literally thought I was going to die several times during the process.   

From hallucinations to convulsions to neurological tics and tremors to complete digestive shutdown…..I was a train wreck….but my wife is amazing and God is awesome and I was fortunate to be able to completely get off of them.

Many people who find themselves on Opioids are not so lucky.

In an article written by the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( ) over 130 people die EVERY DAY due to Opioid overdose (47,000 people in 2017 total) and the economic toll on our country is over $78 Billion (Yes, with a B) yearly.  

Some more disturbing Opioid stats:  

  • Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
  • Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder.
  • An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
  • About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
  • Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.
  • The Midwestern region saw opioid overdoses increase 70 percent from July 2016 through September 2017.

Those numbers scare the crud out of me because I was SUPER close to becoming a statistic and the devastation this causes families and marriages is heart breaking.  Since walking out my own journey with pain meds I’ve talked to lots of families who say something like, 

“Yeah I wish my (Insert person’s name) would have known you or heard your story  X number of years ago….he might be alive or we might still be married”

I hate hearing that….actually, it’s probably the thing I hate hearing most and it’s one of my biggest motivators to educating as much as I do.  I want people to understand the causes of issues they are dealing with but even more than that I want them to know that there is hope.   That’s not to say that there are not times when pain meds or even opioids might be warranted.  But there are other options out there.

In the next blog in this series I’ll cover different causes to pain so that we can work through and understand whats truly happening in the body.

Dr. JB

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