Startling statistics, trends and illustrations reveal an undeniable prescription drug problem in the United States. This session at WCI’s 2016 Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference focused on chronic pain management, including alternative and advanced treatment methods being used to alleviate pain and restore quality of life among those who have become ill or have been injured on the job.
- Dr. Teresa Bartlett, Senior Vice President, Medical Quality, Sedgwick
- Michael Gavin, CEO, Prium
- Dr. Eric Won, President, Brain Research Laboratory
Opioids and other powerful narcotics are often the first line of defense in addressing chronic pain among injured or ill workers today. Far too often, these lead to the more severe problems of long-term use and addiction. The lives of workers and those around them can quickly be destroyed.
There are several ways to intervene:
- PBM-assisted triage and collaborative clinical intervention. Offer provider education on CDC guidelines and follow best practices related to opioid risk assessments and drug screening.
- Pain coaching and behavioral support.
- Mandatory utilization review, when applicable. If you can stop the prescription at the point of sale, you have the best chance of avoiding potential problems later on.
Medical advances are beginning to offer alternatives to opioids. Research shows that the brain plays a critical role in chronic pain. One emerging treatment to wean individuals off of opioids is called neuromodulation – medical therapies that target the nervous system for restoration of function, relief of pain or to control symptoms of depression or anxiety.
There are various alternative pain management treatment options as well. Surprisingly, some potential solutions are other medications. In studies, Duloxetine helped 30% of people experience 30% less pain and Gabapentin helped 10% of people experience 30% less pain.
Other alternatives include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) as a mainstream treatment, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), acupuncture and physical therapy.