Physician Practice

Treating chronic pain a tough task for physicians

Physician Practice Insider, January 24, 2017

Primary care physicians are the most common source of care for patients with chronic pain, and those physicians’ jobs are getting more difficult with new laws and restrictions on prescribing opioid medications.

With overdose deaths from prescription medications on the rise for more than a decade, the healthcare industry is under pressure to reduce the availability of prescription opioids, which are often abused and can create dependency problems.

But the prospect of stricter rules regarding opioids raises concerns: Those rules would also make it more difficult for patients to get the drugs they need to control their pain.

“Primary care physicians write more opioid prescriptions than anyone else, so we do play a part in the prescription opioid abuse problem in this country,” says Robert L. Wergin, MD, board chair for the American Academy of Family Physicians in Leawood, Kansas. “But treating patients with pain is very complex, and each patient is unique, so it’s not something that can easily fit into an algorithm.”

This article was originally published in Physician Practice Perspectives. Subscribers can read the full article in the October 2016 issue.

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