The headlines about the opioid epidemic are ubiquitous. Still, appropriate anger has been expressed by the public over the repetitive statement of the problem without viable solutions, especially for those with chronic pain. I recently did a TEDxNashville talk describing how we got into this opioid epidemic, and the evidence-based solution to get us out, while addressing chronic pain effectively without opioids. There is a glaring lack of education and awareness about the underlying causes of chronic pain that drive the desire for opioids. It is much more than just how to (or not to) prescribe opioids. It involves recognizing the societal, psychological and behavioral contributors to these issues, and empowering patients — and especially providers — to address these factors, along with physical abnormalities and imaging of the body. The body alone can never tell the whole story when it comes to pain. The pain pathways, the mood pathways and the sleep pathways are all the same in the brain and spinal cord. No matter which of these goes awry first, all three will be affected. A coordinated approach to the whole person — not just the symptom — is key.
Read the full article on The Tennessean.