In recent months, federal agencies and state health officials have been pressing doctors to first treat pain with alternative methods before resorting to opioids. There are even plans to possibly restrict how many pain pills a doctor can prescribe. Millions of people in the United States suffer from chronic pain and the task of getting these people to turn to alternative treatments over pain medications is a daunting one. According to this New York Times article, inconsistent insurance coverage and resistance from patients and their doctors to make changes are at the heart of why this transition continues to be a difficult one.
“We are all culpable,” said Dr. David Deitz, a former insurance industry executive and a consultant on pain treatment issues. “I don’t care whether you are a doctor, an insurer or a patient.”
Alternative treatments for pain may include chiropractic and osteopathic manipulation, meditation, massage, yoga, acupuncture, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Not all these treatments are covered by insurance plans or plans impose strict limits on them – and these alternative therapies can be very expensive. An underlying issue also surrounds the effectiveness of certain treatments and evidence varies widely as to what works better, which is why so many insurance companies are hesitant to provide coverage for these programs. Regardless of insurance coverage, many patients reject non-drug treatments, perhaps because as suggested in the article, taking a pill is fast, easy, and generally reliable. On the flip side, alternative treatments take more planning and time out of the day, and the effects are not immediate. The opioid epidemic has helped to create a necessary landscape for change in our approach to pain relief.
This MAY BE HELPFUL FOR THOSE PEOPLE WHO DONT HAVE TO WORK OR WHO HAVE FAMILY OR PARTNERS TO ASSIST THEM BUT FOR THOSE OF US WHO ARE FORCED TO WORK GET HELP FROM NOONE IT DOESNT WORK. So sick and tied of suffering while those who don’t ha e a care in the world and have means to live are probably having their pain treated properly as I haven’t in years and am forced to work until it’s unbearable and have to quit constantly.
Give me some help w housing and good so I’m not forced to work and can try and live off my said alone then ill be happy to try alternative therapies. Sad sick backwards world. Those who have KIDS get help w housing even though they r able to work I am disabled and don’t qualify for housing even though I’m not supposed to work at all lol so ridiculous.
I have read recent evidence that medical cannabis is associated with reduced need for opioids in chronic pain. If it’s truly helpful, cannabis represents another safer alternative, in view of its relative lack of physiological dependence and low risk of severe adverse effects and interactions. However, in absence of a standardized source of supply, many physicians may be reluctant to prescribe it.
Decriminalization or outright legalization for adults makes more sense, as it would also put a substantial dent in both organized crime and mass incarceration. Rather than being a “gateway drug” (a discredited theory), cannabis may actually be a safer alternative or adjunct to opioids for chronic pain.