Contact: Thomas HottmanBy JOHANNA BERNHARD
H&N Staff Reporter
Pain management specialists discussed the impact of chronic pain and the national opioid crisis during a chronic pain seminar at Sky Lakes Community Health Education Center Wednesday.
Addressing an auditorium of practitioners, nurses, students and various members of the public, Dr. Joseph Savino, from Pain Specialists of Southern Oregon, spoke about the new guidelines for
prescribing pain medication published by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this year.
Savino partnered with Sky Lakes Medical Center to educate local healthcare physicians and members of the community about three main issues: the evaluation of chronic pain, treatment option and an awareness of state and national guidelines.
“This is increasingly relevant to all of us in chronic care,” Savino said.
In 2011, there were 100 million adults in the U.S. living with chronic pain, according to a report from the Institute of Medicine.
Savino compared those statistics with other life-threatening diseases, such as the 25.8 million peopl living with diabetes and 11.9 million with cancer to demonstrate the severity of chronic pain, which is widely overlooked, he said.
“Pain for over six months can turn into a brain disease, like an addiction,” Savino said, causing sleep disturbances, mood disorders, cognitive distortions and substance abuse, among others.
“Effective pain management is a moral imperative,” he added.
The annual cost of dealing with chronic pain is around $600 billion, according to IOM.
Savino noted that opioid sales increased from 2000 to 2010 and stressed the importance of risk assessment and monitoring patients to determine who is at risk from opioid treatment and who is no
The CDC guidelines outline when to initiate and continue opioid therapy, the suggested dosage and duration for taking the drug, and assessing the risk and harms for each patient.
With opioid addiction rates soaring around the country, at Pain Specialists of Southern Oregon, Savino said he carries out the same practice with all his patients before prescribing opioids, to minimize any problems or issues with addiction.
He has a checklist.
Savino ensures his patients have tried and optimized other appropriate non-opioid therapies before prescribing them opioids; he sets realistic goals for pain and function and discusses the risks and benefits with his patients; he conducts a urine drug screen test; he prescribes short-acting opioids using the lowest dose. The list goes on.
He encouraged physicians in the audience to follow a similar list and stick to the CDC guidelines.
Following Savino’s presentation, he fronted a question and answer session with Dr. Mark Greenberg from Ashland and Dr. Radu Moisa from Klamath Falls. Cascades East Family Medicine’s Dr. Robert Jackman moderated the panel.
Audience members voiced their concerns about the future of opioid use, prescription and addiction.
Others noted that prescription rates of opioids in the U.S. are among the highest in the world, with continents like Asia choosing acupuncture and homeopathic remedies over Western medicines.
Greenberg didn’t make any promises about the future of the drug. “It’s hard to predict what will happen down the road,” he said.