In a notable first, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) is stating that overuse of opioids for noncancer pain isn’t doing anyone any good. “The risks for chronic opioid therapy for some chronic conditions such as headache, fibromyalgia, and chronic low back pain likely outweigh the benefits.” That’s part of the conclusion of a new position paper from AAN, as published in its Neurology journal this month. For noncancer pain, “powerful painkillers do little to improve patients’ daily functioning.”
Weighing the hazards of opioid use—addition and overdose—against potential benefits, the AAN states that healthcare practitioners should find other treatment methods to help manage chronic pain, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Insurers should cover alternative pain management approaches to combat ineffective drug therapy, which is now the default. Chronic inefficient opioid use must be replaced by other treatment methods that do work, and which insurers should cover.
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