An opioid epidemic is sweeping across our nation. The statistics, especially in Ohio, paint a grim picture of addiction and death. While efforts like the Governor’s Cabinet Opiate Action Team (GCOAT) attempt to address the problem through prescription guidelines and other initiatives, the underlying need for better treatment for chronic pain is apparent.
Chronic pain affects approximately 30 percent of the population worldwide. As life expectancy has increased, many people now have chronic, painful conditions for decades. Often, there is not a 100 percent complete cure for pain, so our society has turned to opioids, risking addiction and all of its other complications, in its quest for a simple solution to be pain free. However, there are alternatives.
Other treatments for pain do exist, but they are not always as easy as taking a pill. The efficacy of interventional pain management therapies are well documented. Psychological and chiropractic care as well as physical therapy and clinical massage can also have a profound impact in treating a variety of painful conditions. All of these come without the dangerous risks posed by opioid use.
Many patients and physicians are frustrated by limited insurance coverage for alternatives to long-term use of opioids. Progress can be made when everyone works together – physicians, patients, government, and the pharmaceutical and health insurance industries – to invest in and use alternative treatments for pain and continue funding research to develop better pain treatments and pain management strategies now and in the future.