With the national opioid epidemic crisis, many states have been closely   addressing the misuse of pain killers as well as doctors who prescribes them freely.  As a result, studies have been performed evaluating how effective pain medications are in treating chronic pain.  Chronic pain is described as pain lasting over 3 to 6 month past the healing stage.  The Minneapolis Veterans Administration (VA) has been in the spot light nationally for their study that showed opioids are no better than other  non-opioid alternatives to treat chronic pain.  The Minneapolis VA study group consisted of two groups of veterans who suffered from chronic pain in backs, hips, or knees.  Group 1 took Opioids for a period of 9 months, and  reported no further improvement.  Group 2 managed their pain with nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory meds and other alternatives, such as physical therapy, showed continue improvement after a 9 month period.  Studies show that those who take opioids over a long period of time develop a  tolerance and the medications are no longer  effective, which may possibly what happen to Group 2 according to Dr. Erin Krebs. 
    Prescription opioids have raised an alarming concern, due to the increase of deaths that are associated with overdoes and  misuse of pain killers.  In  addition, there is also the possibility that pain medications lead to people    trying other illicit drugs such as heroin to self-medicate.  Introducing opioids to patients should not always be first choice for treating chronic pain.  There are many other alternatives and medications that can promote greater       outcome.  Discuss options with your healthcare provider. 
                                                  Taihitia Watson-Wilmer, Nurse Care Coordinator

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