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14 Articles in Volume 18, Issue #9
Assessing Arthralgia in Children
Children, Opioids, and Pain: The Stats & Clinical Guidelines
How to Fit into a New Practice
How to Talk to Your Chronic Pain Patients
How to Treat Opioid Use Disorder in Pregnant Women
Intranasal Ketamine for Acute Pain in Children
Medication Selection for Comorbid Pain Management (Part 3)
MR Neurography: Using Peripheral Nerve Imaging as a Pain Diagnostic
Naloxone in Schools; Buprenorphine Conversions; OUD Management
Opioid Conversion Calculations and Changes
Pes Anserine Tendino-Bursitis as Primary Cause of Knee Pain in Overweight Women
Self-Management of Chronic Pain in Primary Care
The Homebound Adolescent: Managing Chronic Pain Conditions in the Pediatric Population
The Opioid Band-Aid: The State of Pain Pills, Congressional Bills, and Healthcare in the US

The Opioid Band-Aid: The State of Pain Pills, Congressional Bills, and Healthcare in the US

A Guest Editorial with UW's Heather Tick, MD
Pages 6-8
Page 2 of 2

An important study of tens of thousands of people examined lifestyle factors and health and found that healthy choices dramatically reduce the numbers of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and cancers in ways that medical and drug therapies cannot hope to match.10 Many of these diseases are associated with pain and have the same underlying root causes as pain conditions. This phenomenon has been referred to as “healthy living is the best revenge."10

There are many non-pharmacologic therapies for pain that are underutilized and not covered by insurance despite evidence that they work both in the short- and long-term. Therapies such as acupuncture, massage, osteopathy, chiropractic, Tai chi and yoga, mind-body therapies, and nutritional improvements (see more on nutritional pain management in our AIPM highlights) are often safe and effective for reducing pain; some studies have shown that these approaches have long-term general health benefits even 12 months after the therapy ends.

Of particular interest is their ability to improve mood and anxiety. A recent whitepaper on evidence-based non-pharmacologic pain care by the Pain Task Force of the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine and Health, consisting of 72 medical schools and health systems, noted that some of these treatments were shown to reduce the need for opioids after surgery for acute, chronic, and cancer pain.11 The belief that conventional care is more proven than non-pharmacologic alternatives has been shown to be false.12,13 Of course, all therapies need to be judged by their effectiveness, short- and long-term safety, low cost, and acceptability to patients.

Much of current disease management strategy can be likened to putting band-aids over abscesses instead of addressing root causes. If we go back to the lessons learned about opioid addiction from the Rat Park experiments,14 providing opportunities for an interesting and healthy life discouraged the development of addiction in test animals. The greatest impact on overall health has been shown to derive from improving the major determinants of health: the lifestyle factors. The next greatest impact can come from reducing our dependence on conventional medical practices that remain the third leading cause of death.

In the end, the flaws of our pain care system are the flaws of the healthcare system itself. There is an urgent need to stop looking at the problem from the rearview mirror and recognize it for what it is: the opioid and addiction crisis are symptoms of the healthcare crisis in America and efforts to address them separately have little chance of success.

Last updated on: December 3, 2018
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States Take Action to Manage Opioid Addiction
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