Rather than being considered a miracle pill that magically takes away pain, prescription opioids are increasingly being seen as a precursor to heroin addiction and the cause of potentially deadly overdoses themselves. However, select patients do still benefit from the use of opioids in the management of chronic pain. The trick, for any prescriber, is to identify those patients who are appropriate for opioid management and to provide that therapy safely.
The first step, says Christopher J. Burnett, MD, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at the Texas A&M College of Medicine and director of the Baylor Scott & White Health’s Temple Pain Clinic, is to follow the guidelines the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released last year. “The CDC guidelines, which outline when to prescribe these drugs and provide guidance for how to do so safely, are a good starting point for providers caring for chronic pain patients,” Burnett said.