The United States is currently battling the worst opioid epidemic in history. In fact, more than 115 people die every day in America due to opioid addiction. While the opioid epidemic is a complex problem that impacts people across socioeconomic, geographic and demographic backgrounds, one of the major contributing factors to America’s opioid problem was the easy access to opioid painkillers through the practice of overly prescribing pain killers in both quantity and volume. For the past 30 years, painkillers have been prescribed for acute to mild pain management. While this practice is slowly being eliminated, the accessibility of both legal and illegal forms of opioids continues to be one of the most challenges elements of America’s opioid addiction.

In addition to the accessibility of opioids, many Americans suffer from back pain. All levels of back pain are frustrating; however, this combination of common persisting pain and prescription painkillers, contributed to the over prescription of high-level, high-dosage opioid-based painkillers to patients that really did not need them. Many addicts that struggle with opioids were first prescribed through a legal medical situation. Medical professionals across the country have recognized this previous mistake and now work to limit the opioid prescriptions given. Many states are implementing legislations to try to combat it as well

The state of Oregon is taking steps as the Oregon Health Authority recently release new guidelines for prescribing opioids for patients with short-term acute pain. The Oregon Health Authority advises:

  • Doctors to no longer consider opioids as a viable pain management tool for patients with mild to moderate pain, especially if they never have use opioids in the past.
  • Review patients’ medical history for substance abuse problems and symptoms as well as provide education on safe storage and disposal.
  • Require follow up appointments, if a patient is prescribed opioids.
  • Lastly, if opioids are prescribed, it should be the lowest dosage possible and least amount of painkillers given as possible.

These new guidelines need to be reviewed and observed by practitioners in outpatient care, dental care, and pre-procedure/post-surgical care. Kuether Brain and Spine takes pain management seriously and makes a conscious effort to try alternative options before opting to medical prescriptions or surgery. Dr. Kuether and his staff are firm believers in working through options like acupuncture and physical therapy prior to determining if more drastic steps are required for acute and mild pain. Kuether Brain and Spine will always take extreme caution when caring for our patients pre and post-surgery, especially if painkillers are required as we understand the possible impacts of opioid use. Kuether Brain and Spine’s goal is to help it’s patients live their healthiest lives in the most effective and safest way possible.