According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 million Americans experience acute and chronic pain daily. Managing the pain is debilitating and costly, and the impact on the economy is felt through employment issues along with a heightened burden on the healthcare system.
In recent months, part of the pain management conversation has focused on the growing issue of opioid addiction and abuse. Without proper pain management strategies and tactics, people are finding themselves struggling to manage pain effectively without continually increasing their opioid intake. It’s a national epidemic that’s led to huge economic burdens. In fact, the National Institutes of Health estimated that opioid addiction and abuse have contributed to roughly $600 billion annually.
Recognizing the national epidemic, several U.S. government agencies convened a cross-agency commission to review the issue and find real solutions. The Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force was created by the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Office of National Drug Control Policy and mandated “to identify gaps, inconsistencies, and updates and to make recommendations for best practices for managing acute and chronic pain.”
In May 2019, the task force released its first report, outlining the following key points:
- Develop an effective pain treatment plan after proper evaluation.
- Use a multimodal approach that includes medications, nerve blocks, physical therapy, and other modalities for acute pain conditions.
- Implement a multidisciplinary approach for chronic pain across various disciplines.
The task force is focusing on finding tangible ways to decrease adverse outcomes without impacting access to prescription medications for those who need it—like patients with cancer. Public health continues to be a national priority, and the task force has shown it’s open to working with clinicians, caregivers, and patient advocates to make real changes in public policy.