The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released voluntary guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. The guidelines urge primary care physicians to try measures like physical therapy, exercise, complementary/alternative therapies, behavioral therapies, and over-the-counter pain medications before prescribing opioids for patients with chronic pain.
These guidelines pertain to patients 18 years and older, who are in primary care settings. They focus on treatment of chronic pain, wherein chronic pain is defined as pain lasting longer than three months. The CDC suggests, that opioids should not be the first choice of treatment for ailments like back pain. Apart from this, it is recommended by the CDC that physicians limit opioid treatment to 3 days for short-term pain. The CDC also wants physicians to prescribe the lowest effective dose possible for pain relief and only continue prescribing these medications if patient shows improvement in pain.
The CDC suggests some extra measures for people who have been prescribed opioids. These include, taking them as directed by your physician, regular monitoring including more frequent visits to the doctors, a pain treatment plan, being aware of the side-effects, and urine testing.
The guidelines exclude patients being treated for cancer-related pain, palliative care, or end of life care.
The guidelines come in light of increasing scrutiny over deaths associated with prescription opioids. (In 2014, more than 28,000 people died of opioid overdose1)