Treating people with addiction and pain is one of the most ‘difficult’ areas of medicine. There are new guidelines to help

    (Photo via The Conversation)

    A task force of health care providers convened by the Wolf administration has released guidelines for treating patients with opioid use disorder and pain.

    During a new conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday, Dr. Scott McCracken, a member of the Safe and Effective Prescribing Practices Task Force, said he “can’t overstate how difficult an area this is in medicine.”

    McCracken, a physician at WellSpan Community Health Center in York,  called the guidelines “best practices.”

    “Unfortunately, many patients suffer from both pain and [opioid use disorder], and the combination of these two conditions makes treatment of both conditions more difficult,” the guidelines state. Suggestions include trying “physical therapy, acupuncture, osteopathic or chiropractic manipulative treatment, [or] cognitive behavioral therapy” in certain cases.

    Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said the guidelines are available online and will be distributed through health systems like WellSpan.

    Other guidelines focus on opioids in dental care, geriatric pain, and treating chronic pain.

    September is National Recovery Month, which the Wolf administration is marking with another giveaway of the overdose reversal drug naloxone.

    According to the Health department, there were 15,987 emergency room visits for overdoses between January 2018 and Aug. 10, 2019.

    On Sept. 18 and 25, Pennsylvanians can pick up free naloxone at 87 sites statewide

    Associate Editor Sarah Anne Hughes covers the governor and Pennsylvania's agencies. Before joining the Capital-Star, she was the state capitol reporter for Billy Penn and The Incline, and a 2018 corps member for Report for America. She was previously managing editor of Washington City Paper, editor-in-chief of DCist, and a national blogger for The Washington Post.

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