Safety Advisory: Use Non-Opioid Treatments for Pain First

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says one out of every five adults in the United States suffers from chronic pain. Now, a safety advisory from the joint commission is encouraging opioid-free treatments first when people seek pain relief.

Posted: Oct. 31, 2018 7:21 AM

CLEVELAND – A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says one out of every five adults in the United States suffers from chronic pain.

And chronic pain has been linked to opioid dependence.

Now, a safety advisory from the joint commission is encouraging opioid-free treatments first when people seek pain relief.

Jamie Starkey, LAC, Cleveland Clinic’s lead acupuncturist, said the advisory recommends a host of non-opiate therapies for managing pain.

“They’re advising patients to seek out things like acupuncture, massage therapy, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications. So, all of these options would be attempted first before going straight to an opiate-based medication,” she said.

The recommended opioid-free therapies include meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, music therapy, massage therapy, spinal manipulation, acupuncture and non-opioid medicines.

All of these therapies have been studied and proven safe and effective for managing pain.

What’s especially important is that these therapies won’t lead to opioid addiction, which is responsible for thousands of deaths each year in the United States.

Starkey adds that these therapies have minimal, if any, side effects.

She strongly recommends people talk to their doctors about trying non-opioid options before turning to a prescription.

“We see that the evidence is there, so it works,” said Starkey. “It’s helping to bring pain scores down without the side effects of opiate medication as well as the addictive properties of opiate medication.”

Starkey said many insurance companies will cover a number of the recommended therapies but if folks have questions, she recommends calling the insurance provider for more information.

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