Not too long ago, in the 1990s and 2000s, the health care system’s best solution for chronic pain was an opioid prescription. Today, of course, we know that opioids are highly addictive and deadly, only to be used as pain relief in moderation with careful oversight.
Still, even after more than a decade of trying to curb opioid use, overdose deaths continue to ravage the country, with each year’s death count higher than the last. In a single 12-month period ending in April 2021, more than 75,000 people were estimated to have died from opioid overdoses – nearly 20,000 more deaths than the previous year.
Clearly, the nation’s strategies to lessen opioid-related deaths are not working. Even though opioids are off the table in many instances, people still experience pain. So how do we address pain management effectively with little or no opioids?
One solution is digital health, an effective – though underutilized – tool for pain management. In my role as a chief clinical officer of a virtual physical therapy platform, I get to see firsthand how solutions like these can help reduce opioid reliance and regain mobility.