According to a recent article on NPR, about one-third of Americans deal with chronic pain, and a large portion of them rely on opioid drugs to manage this pain. However, turning to opioids for chronic care management has not been the ideal solution. It’s estimated that doctors and other health care providers write enough prescriptions for opioids in one year that every single American could have their own bottle of pills.
As it’s been reported widely in the news, opioids are highly addictive and their abuse has led to a national health crisis. There were reportedly 42,000 deaths in 2016, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Over the last 30 years, opioid drugs have been the go-to method of chronic care management for pain, but before the 1980s doctors used a multidisciplinary approach of physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and occupational therapy. Because of the national health crisis brought about by the overprescribing of opioid drugs, some doctors are starting to go back to this multidisciplinary method—and they’re seeing incredible results.
A Change in Lifestyle with Chronic Care Management
While an opioid medication prescription can temporarily ease chronic pain symptoms, many people become dependent on them in order to live their daily lives. However, there’s a growing consensus among chronic care management professionals and pain specialists that an old-school multidisciplinary method of simple lifestyle changes can actually be more effective.
This kind of multidisciplinary effort is not used as often because it’s much more costly and less convenient than prescribing a bottle of pills. The best kind of treatment for chronic pain is a combination of yoga, exercise, rehabilitation therapies and cognitive behavioral therapies, according to the article on NPR.
Cheaper and Better for Your Health
Although this kind of tackling-from-all-angles kind of treatment might be more expensive for insurance to cover in the short-term, in the long-term it’s much cheaper and better for the patient’s overall health.
Many patients who deal with chronic pain symptoms may be hesitant to try exercising because they fear reinjuring or making their pain symptoms more severe. But, living a sedentary lifestyle is actually the worst thing you can do for chronic pain. The idea of this multidisciplinary approach is to slowly wean themselves off an opioid prescription and help them overcome their fear of not taking it on a daily basis.
However, patients should know that when trying out this multidisciplinary route of chronic care management, there is no magic wand that will quickly get rid of the pain they experience. There are no shortcuts in this particular kind of treatment, but patients who stick with it and make a commitment end up experiencing satisfactory results.
Pain specialists who have had patient success with these methods are hopeful that these alternative treatments to opioids will be widespread eventually and help those who have been affected by chronic pain.
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