In Pain Management, Risks Abound

In Pain Management, Risks Abound

The Alliance for Balanced Pain Management (AfBPM), at its second National Summit, continued to identify ways to improve access to integrated pain management and to support the sensible and safe use of prescription medicines for patients in pain. The issues raised are especially of importance to those with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia.

AfBPM is a heterogeneous collective of 24 healthcare groups, patient organizations, industry representatives, and other stakeholders.

“Patient safety, responsible medicine use and access to appropriate care — such as physical therapy and rehabilitation, psychological counseling, complementary care and medicine — are important components of balanced pain management that benefit both people with pain and society at large,” Bob Twillman, PhD, an  AfBPM member and Executive Director for the American Academy of Pain Management, said in a press release. Dr. Twillman was also the keynote speaker at the Summit, held on Nov. 12-13.

“It’s critical that we move from a one-size-fits-all approach to one that considers individual factors such as age, physical abilities and support systems to optimize pain management,” Dr. Twillman said. “We also need to make sure that people are aware of potential risks and issues associated with some pain medicines and that we safeguard medicines if they are prescribed.”

Even though awareness is growing about the potential for inadvertent and serious consequences in pain management, there is more to be done, Summit members stressed. Unintended consequences can appear in many forms — a family member who is self-medicating with pills prescribed for someone else, a teenager taking for recreational use medication left about the home, or an elderly surgical patient having an adverse reaction, like respiratory depression,  from medicines.

Education is key to AfBPM members, and they believe it a crucial component in raising awareness of options to medications for pain management, and in reducing the chances of dangerous behaviors or side effects. This is why, earlier in 2015, AfBPM created and distributed a checklist informing people on how to safely use, store and dispose of pain medicine, and conducted a nationwide survey collecting information from people experiencing pain or obstacles to care.

For 2016, AfBPM’s goals are to continue to focus on: informing patients about access to proper care, and the safe and responsible use of medicine in and outside the hospital; developing programs to help inform people about the importance of individualized and integrated care; promoting the availability of complementary, alternative therapies to medication; and, more generally, raising awareness about issues associated with some pain medicines, like an  increased risk of falling, being constipated, or suffering respiratory distress.

You can read more about the goals AfBPM goals for 2016 here.