United Hospital Center explores alternatives to pain medications


The battle against opioids has been being fought on many different angles. Prevention and education play a key role in limiting the presence of opioids in our communities.  

New legislation is working to limit the amount of opioids prescribed for pain in an effort to fight the drug epidemic. Many healthcare professionals play a role in determining how to control a patient’s pain. Doctors say communicating resources with the patient is crucial. 

“As physicians, education is number one. We have to be aware of it. We have to know what’s a normal amount of pain medicine for a specific type of injury,” said Dr. Joseph Fazalare, orthopedic surgeon at United Hospital Center. 

New laws in West Virginia create standards for physicians, pharmacists and healthcare professionals when it comes to prescribing and dispensing opioids. Limiting the amount of opioids prescribed can be as simple as using Tylenol and Motrin as supplements to treat pain. 

“And a lot of times what we can do is use a combination. Use less narcotics, less opioids and then use the alternatives like anti-inflammatories, along with the narcotics,” added Fazalare. 

The new law requires consultation with patients before prescribing opioids.  This communication can help the doctor understand what other medicines a person is on and what effect pain medication may have.

“And, I think you have to get to know your patient.  You can’t get to know a patient in three minutes and know their pain medicine requirements,” explained Fazalare.

“Sometimes discussing pain can really change someone’s belief about what they are able to do with their pain.  Also, showing them the correct exercises to do,” said Jenna Snyder-Futten, physical therapist at United Hospital Center. 

UHC’s neurosurgery and spine center offers alternatives to pain medication through services like dry needling which works to stimulate muscles and improve movement and pain.  One method though is something simple enough for anyone to do at home.

“R.I.C.E. It’s great if you have an acute injury or post surgery,” said Futten. 

“It stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation and basically what that does is it kinda controls the swelling, controls the inflammation in the injured joint, and that, in turn, will help with the pain,” explained Fazalare. 

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