Fighting the Opiod Epidemic; Rethinking Pain Treatment
Last month our very own, Dr. Brian Morrison, was shown in a PBS NewsHour segment (his cameo can be seen at 7.5) that focused on the treatment of pain and the worsening opioid epidemic in the United States.
NewHour's Christopher Booker reported that "Pain is the most common reason that people go to the doctor. Yet physicians and medical students have limited training in pain management and prescribing opioids." Between 1998 and 2013 opioid prescriptions doubled specifically for the use of treating chronic pain, which has yielded almost a five fold growth in the number of deaths from prescription opioid overdose in that same time frame.
For many years Dr. Morrison has been working alongside a team of clinicians at the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Integrative Medicine to help teach 4th medical students about more comprehensive pain management programs. The CFM team is working to foster a new generation of doctors that will be able to treat chronic pain more effectively while simultaneously addressing the opioid epidemic. Specifically, Dr. Morrison has dedicated much of his time to encouraging these new batches of doctors to "decatastrophize" their patient's pain. By reducing the patient's fear surrounding their pain, doctors are able to employ more holistic treatment options such as diet changes, manual therapies, and exercise while yielding long lasting symptom relief. Here's an interesting fact; in 2011 a study showed that during 4 years of medical training, only 9 hours were spent learning about pain.
The director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, said in March of 2016, "The science of opioids for chronic pain is clear: for the vast majority of patients the known, serious, and too often fatal risks far outweigh the unproven and transient benefits." Both Morrison Chiropractic locations frequently host 4th year medical students for interactive shadow days in which they are able to see first hand the benefits of comprehensive pain management.
Regarding the feedback he gets from the students that visit his practice, Dr. Morrison said, "It is an incredibly rewarding experience to be able to provide these students with the opportunity to see, first hand, that there are other options for pain management that may equal or surpass the efficacy of opiod prescription."