Opioid Alternatives – What Else is Out There?

Patient Management

April 16, 2019

A doctor holding a topical medication meant to treat pain, as an alterative to using opioids

It’s no secret we are in the midst of an opioid crisis. In 2017 alone, over 17,000 Americans died from an overdose involving prescription opioids. Healthcare professionals have taken a step back and asked themselves, “Is this really the best treatment for pain?”

Though opioids may be effective for severe, acute pain following a traumatic injury or surgery, they have not been proven to be the best solution for chronic, long-term pain. Because the nature of chronic pain is ongoing, typically lasting longer than 6 months, it is relatively difficult to find constant relief for these patients.

Oftentimes opioids are prescribed to treat chronic pain, however, there are many side effects associated with opioid use, including the risk of addiction. Even when taken as directed, prescribed opioids can cause increased sensitivity to pain, dizziness, and depression.

Moreover, opioids must make their way through a patient’s digestive and blood system before they hit the site of the pain. Topical medications, on the other hand, are applied directly to the injured area, specifically targeting the pain point. This provides faster and more complete relief with minimal side effects. And since topical medications do not provide the “euphoric” feeling opioids produce, they can target pain without the high risk of addiction.

Finding the right solution to treat chronic pain begins with understanding the various treatment options available. At CorVel, we offer drug utilization review services to ensure injured workers receive the most appropriate medications. Our Pharmacy Solutions Team keeps patient safety at the forefront, limiting opioid prescriptions to a 3-day supply. Learn more about our Pharmacy Solutions here.

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