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Alternatives to Opioids for Pain Management after a Workers’ Compensation Claim

acupuncture-568136_1920When a person is injured on the job, they are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits may include the costs of medical treatment and compensation for lost wages during rehabilitation and prescription medications. With many of the injuries sustained in the workplace leading to chronic pain, this means that some of the prescriptions being covered by workers’ compensation are often opioids.

Though opioids are an effective pain management tool, their use and overuse in the United States has reached epidemic proportions and has become a leading cause of addiction and death. In addition to encouraging physicians to limit the frequency and quantity of prescribing these drugs, healthcare administrators are also advocating for the use of alternative forms of pain management. Unfortunately, though equally effective, these may not be approved by workers’ compensation insurance companies. Some of these alternatives include:

  • Medical marijuana – Though anecdotal evidence supports its use and many states are permitting physicians to prescribe it for pain relief and other maladies, its use has not been clinically proven, and possession of marijuana remains a federal offense.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – This is a psychological and psychosocial treatment that helps people to find different ways of dealing with and living with their pain. It not only encourages a refocusing of negative thoughts but also on coping strategies and ways to recognize what actions aggravate pain.
  • Non-drug treatments – These may include chiropractic interventions, physical therapy, acupuncture, hypnosis, relaxation training and biofeedback. Many of these have been accepted as effective treatment options by organizations as diverse as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the American College of Physicians, but reimbursement from workers’ compensation insurers may not be easy to get.
  • Other types of medications – There are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications that can be used to treat different types of pain. Though the relief they provide is not as potent, many patients can find relief by taking acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Antidepressants can be effective at treating nerve pain and chronic pain, and the same is true of anti-epileptic medications, which have also proven effective in pain management for herniated disks. Corticosteroid injections can also help reduce inflammation from back injuries and can be taken orally for other injuries.

If you have been injured at work and are suffering from chronic pain, you need to be sure that you can count on the workers’ compensation benefits that you need. Call the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Malamut and Associates today to set up an appointment.