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September is Pain Awareness Month

Do you "Know Your Script?"
Posted at 6:02 PM, Sep 13, 2023

Pain is necessary. It can warn you something is wrong and keep you from making it worse.

Pain can also make you miserable and push you to solutions that lead to more harm than the original problem – most notably the abuse of addictive pain medicine.

September is pain awareness month and medical providers want you to "Know Your Script."

“It is really fortunate that we have these medications when they’re needed,” said Dr. James Hellewell with Intermountain Health.

Opioids can be a blessing.

Physical therapist Dr. Matthew Randall said, “They can be a helpful tool especially recovering from painful surgery like a total knee replacement.”

But opioid addiction has become one of the leading killers in America.

“Whenever possible, we want to look for alternatives to opioid medications for treating pain,” said Hellewell.

All around TOSH – Intermountain Health’s orthopedic specialty hospital, you see signs about pain awareness connected to understanding your prescription, or in the worlds of the campaign, “Know Your Script.”

“So, we've kind of changed the way we prescribe to reduce the amount prescribed and that helps to kind of, you know, reduce the availability of opioids in medicine cabinets, and things that are left over,” said Hellewell.

At TOSH, many of the patients have experienced acute pain.

“Acute pain is pain after things like surgery or a broken bone. And a lot of times with pain like that, if opioids are needed at all, they may only be needed for a few days,” says Hellewell.

“Using tools like modalities heat or ice,” said Randall.

“Acupuncture, massage therapy,” said Hellewell.

“Also stretches and hands on therapy,” said Randall.

“Medical nutrition therapy, mindfulness training,” said Hellewell.

“So helping them find other ways. Besides, medication can be a great tool,” said Randall.

And other kinds of medicines that are not addictive can help.

“Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, sometimes antidepressant medications may even help,” said Hellewell.

“There's a lot of reasons why people are in pain,” said Randall. “We know that even how people grow up their upbringing, how they watched their parents deal with pain, their culture, the sports they play as kids, all those things influence how they feel or experience the pain sensation.”

Yes, pain is very real. But it also is in your head and often the best approaches involved the whole body and mind.

“So, the biggest thing is explaining what pain is and how the nervous system plays a role in that pain experience. And once they understand how their body is working that many times it's just a very sensitive nervous system that helps to calm things down a bit. But there are so many factors of things that go into why someone experiences pain,” said Randall.

Intermountain Health is part of the “Know Your Script campaign.” Visit knowyourscript.org to find helpful information to manage the prescriptions that you have and to understand how they help and the potential harms.