How Sports Medicine Can Help With the Opioid Crisis

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Communities are trying to understand how to get a handle on the opioid epidemic that has gripped the nation over the past decade. Prescribing habits of doctors have been examined. Safe storage and disposal have been a focal point.

Choosing Pain Medicine Alternatives 

The human body goes through a lot when playing sports and injuries will happen. Some injuries are minor with short recovery times, and others can be catastrophic where surgeries might be needed. Sports medicine physicians play a key role in pain management for musculoskeletal injuries.

Elizabeth Joy, MD, Intermountain Healthcare’s Medical Director of Community Health, Health Promotion and Wellness, and Food & Nutrition, co-authored an article with sports medicine physician Scott Meier, MD, from Kaiser-Permanente. Their article, appearing in American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, “Part of the Problem or Part of the Solution,” looked at how sports medicine physicians can help reduce misuse of prescribed opiate medications.

“The sports medicine community is poised to address and lead non-pharmacologic approaches to pain management for musculoskeletal conditions,” reports Dr. Joy.

Drs. Joy and Meier focused on alternative and potentially safer treatment options, such as the use of cryotherapy (ice) or using heat, physical therapy, and acupuncture as alternatives to opioid pain medication.

“The evidence base for these interventions is strong, and the potential for avoiding costly, and deadly, side effects from medications such as opioids is growing rapidly,” from the article.

Sports medicine physicians can create a pivot in the opioid crisis – through alternative therapies and fewer opioid prescriptions for common musculoskeletal injuries and conditions.

“Sports medicine physicians need to be a part of the solution now. Consider non-pharmacologic approaches to pain first. Prescribe non-opioid pain medications when they are necessary. Avoid prescribing Opioids to at-risk individuals, especially adolescents; and when you prescribe limit the number of pills,” from the article.

The entire article can be read at the AMSSM website.