Opioids are a common prescription for pain management, but Integrated Pain Consultants know medication management is just one option for pain relief. As the country is in the middle of an opioid epidemic, we’re learning more about the potential side effects of using opioids as treatment. A recent study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) “The Impact of Opioid Prescriptions on Duration of Temporary Disability” found that workers treated with opioids for lower back pain long-term stayed out of work on disability three times longer than those without opioid prescriptions. We also invite you to learn more about Dr. Nikesh Seth and other providers including Dr. Anne-Marie Cosijns, Dr. Lisa Sparks, Dr. Michael Givens, and our team of Nurse Practitioners.
According to CEO and WCRI president John Ruser, medical guidelines already don’t encourage the use of opioids for long-term back relief (for those who don’t get surgery). Still, the drug is regularly prescribed in just that matter. He related the issue to workers staying out on disability for much longer than what might be necessary. Plus, the longer a person takes prescription opioids, the higher their chance of addiction and dependency.
Opioids can be a great solution for severe, short-term pain (such as pain related to a back surgery). Employees who don’t need surgery but suffer from back pain have a host of conservative, alternative treatments available such as spinal injections.
The study also highlighted that instances where long-term opioid prescriptions are high, employees are (of course) likelier to be prescribed long-term opioid prescriptions. This can lead to a dangerous cycle of medication abuse. Quest Diagnostics reports that prescription drugs are now present in 52 percent of drug tests. Addiction is linked to forcing 20 percent of men out of the workforce, too.
Many prescription benefits management (PBM) departments, such as CVS’ Caremark, are releasing tighter restrictions on prescribing opioids. Addictive drugs are directly impacting employees as well as disability leave. It’s uncertain at this point what kind of ultimate impact that may cause. However, Ruser says that employers following in CVS’ footsteps are on the right path. It’s important to help get hurt employees healthy and back to work sooner rather than later.
Today’s approach to holistic wellness extends far beyond physical fitness programs to include alternative, safer therapies. To find out more about medication management and opioid alternatives, call Integrated Pain Consultants at 480-626-2552.