The Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force (Task Force) recently published their report on Pain Management Best Practices: Updates, Gaps, Inconsistencies, and Recommendations, which was created under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) of 2016 to identify how management of chronic and acute pain could be improved. CARA was passed in response to the ongoing opioid epidemic; it disbursed grants to help curtail the crisis, one of which (Section 101) funded the Task Force.
The Task Force examines ways to curtail opioid use with other treatment regimens for both acute and chronic pain. For acute pain, the report recommends first treating with nonopioid medications, ultrasound-guided nerve blocks, and novel therapies such as lidocaine or ketamine before, if needed, progressing to opioid-based treatment. For chronic pain, recommendations include using non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (e.g., aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen), antidepressants, and anxiolytics (to cope with anxiety related to chronic pain) before opioid-based treatment. For both acute and chronic pain, the report emphasizes the importance of developing more specific protocols for different conditions; currently, opioids are often prescribed as a first line of defense against pain generally. The report further states that educating physicians and patients about alternative approaches to pain alleviation could help abate the current crisis by using non opioid-based treatment regimens when appropriate.