Perspectives on Opioids and Alternative Treatments for Chronic Pain
Written by Editor   
Thursday, November 16, 2017 08:01 AM

Current literature describes the limits and pitfalls of using opioid pharmacotherapy for chronic pain and the importance of identifying alternatives.

The objective of this study was to identify the practical issues patients and providers face when accessing alternatives to opioids, and how multiple parties view these issues. The results suggest that education about realistic expectations for chronic pain management and therapy options, as well as making chiropractic and acupuncture (A/C) care more easily accessible, might lead to more satisfaction for patients and providers, and provide important input to policy makers.

This study identified four themes around opioid use:

(1)   attitudes toward use of opioids to manage chronic pain;
(2)   the limited alternative options for chronic pain management;
(3)   the potential of acupuncture and chiropractic (A/C) care as a tool to help manage pain; and
(4)   the complex system around chronic pain management.

Qualitative data were gathered to evaluate the outcomes of acupuncture and chiropractic (A/C) services for chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP) using structured interview guides among patients with CMP and primary care providers (PCPs) purposively sampled from a managed care health care system as well as from contracted community A/C providers. All participants were asked about their experiences managing chronic pain and experience with and/or attitudes about A/C treatment.

Despite widespread dissatisfaction with opioid medications for pain management, many practical barriers challenged access to other options. Most of the participants’ perceived A/C care as helpful for short term pain relief. The authors identified problems with timing, expectations, and plan coverage limited A/C care potential for pain relief treatment.