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Becker’s Orthopedic Review: How Sports Medicine Physicians Can Tackle the Opioid Crisis


Sports medicine physicians can tackle the opioid crisis with non-opioid pain management, according to Bert Mandelbaum, MD, in Medscape Orthopedics.

Here are five key points.

1. Sports medicine physicians must understand the magnitude of the issue, Dr. Mandelbaum advised in the Medscape article. CBS News reports that more Americans died from opioid-related overdoses in 2016 than the entirety of the Vietnam War.

Dr. Mandelbaum suggested addiction be treated as a medical diagnosis to gain access to covered addiction treatment.

2. Exercise, in combination with behavioral modification and addiction medications such as methadone, can be a powerful prescription for patients suffering from addiction, Dr. Mandelbaum said. He has found it essential to develop relationships with rehabilitation programs to which he can refer patients.

3. Dr. Mandelbaum stressed the importance of identifying high-risk patients and focusing on non-opioid pain management therapies. Only when icing, compression and sometimes electrical stimulation fail does he prescribe the synthetic opioid tramadol.

4. When patients ask for opioids, Dr. Mandelbaum informs them he is effective at pain management and his surgical technique aims to avoid causing pain in the first place.

5. Success in pain management requires careful monitoring. "I ask patients to score their pain on a one-10 visual analogue scale. Not only does this help me analyze the situation of an individual patient, but it allows me to evaluate my success across my practice by averaging the scores of dozens of patients. And by participating in the Arthrex Surgical Outcomes System, I can compare my results with those of other physicians," Dr. Mandelbaum wrote in the Medscape article.

Read the full article here.

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