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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
JUN 26, 2019
Alternative Pain Management— What to Consider
On average, prescription drug costs amount to nearly 14 percent of an overall workers’ compensation claim expense. Drug expense can increase significantly when opioids are part of the treatment plan. Opioid use may increase cost due to significant potential side effects, and often requiring increases in dosage or stronger drug to combat patient tolerance. Moreover, opioids place the patient in a state of sedation — impairing a patient’s decision-making activities and causing safety concerns around driving or the use of heavy machinery.
Medicines, occupational and physical therapy
While healthcare professionals devise the patient’s overall treatment protocol, medications, other than opioids such as muscle relaxers or pain relievers, may be a better alternative for pain management. Choosing medications that aren’t opiates or NSAIDs may help reduce side effects, avoid increased tolerances and allow the patient to be more functional since they may not cause a sedative state.
If the patient becomes more functional, he or she may begin physical therapy. Many injured workers believe that moving an injured body part will make it worse. This isn’t true. For instance, someone with a shoulder injury who does not receive physical therapy is at significantly greater risk for frozen shoulder — a condition that requires surgery to break up significant scar tissue caused by immobility.
An all-encompassing approach
Studies have demonstrated that the bio-psycho-social methodology is usually the best way to approach any injury. A patient’s biological, psychological and social health all play a factor in his or her recovery. There are numerous therapies available that focus on psychological and social health.
For example, distraction therapy encourages people to be in flow, where they are so encompassed in an activity they enjoy, they can more easily tolerate pain with fewer pain killing drugs. Pain can be a perception; the mind is interpreting what’s going on within the body. Tricking the brain with something it enjoys, like art or animals, stops the signal and allows the patient to perceive less pain.
Even though this therapy isn’t considered physical, it can keep patients active and engaged. When patients realize they can be functional with less pain, they are more positive about their recovery. Their stress is reduced, which relieves tension and can speed up their recovery.
Other therapies focus on the patient’s relationships. If he or she has a friend or family member that enables them, or makes the recovery more difficult, it can be addressed immediately and drafted into the treatment plan.
When the bio-psycho-social approach is utilized, and all three factors are addressed simultaneously, patients reach maximum levels of medical improvement sooner. To learn more about how Amerisure can assist your injured workers in returning to the job,
Note: Medical professionals control patient treatment, not Amerisure employees. The information in this blog is to be considered when discussing treatment options with healthcare professionals.