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Chronic Pain
Insurers slighting claims for non-opioid pain treatments
Despite the opioid epidemic, health insurers are still failing to reimburse chronic pain patients for effective non-opioid treatments, including psychological counseling and acupuncture. Even coverage for physical and occupational therapy varies widely in terms of the number of visits allowed, and whether prior authorization is required.
Pain doctors, advocates urge curbs on “forced opioid tapering”
Last week more than 100 healthcare professionals and pain advocates signed a letter urging the Department of Health and Human Services to “prohibit or minimize rapid, forced opioid tapering in outpatients.” The letter was drafted by Beth Darnall, PhD, a pain psychologist at Stanford Medical School. It addresses the plight of chronic pain patients who were prescribed very high doses of opioids in the past, but who—whipsawed by rapid changes in medical consensus about the risks and benefits of such medication—are suddenly finding that they can no longer obtain their medications at such dosages. An estimated 18 million Americans are now on long-term prescription opioid therapies.
Nora Volkow on prescription opioids, chronic pain and ‘hype’
Research psychiatrist Nora Volkow, MD—the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse for the past 15 years—is one of the world's foremost authorities on opioid and other addictions.
Can Virtual Reality Relieve Chronic Pain? A Controversial Pain Doctor Thinks So.

Some hospitals today try to lessen the pain of patients, especially children, by having them play virtual reality games during agonizing procedures.

News Roundup: June 8, 2018: Pain Refugees
Opioids present a unique medical problem, Lewis Nelson told me last week.
Stanford’s Lembke: Most high-dose opioid patients should be tapered down—even involuntarily.
When Anna Lembke first became a psychiatrist, addiction was an area she avoided.
Q&A (Pt 2): Addiction Expert Discusses Hate Mail and Why Opioids are “Lousy” Drugs for Pain
Andrew Kolodny is co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaborative of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.
News Roundup: March 30, 2018: Medicare Reg Scaring Pain Patients
In the most alarming story of the week, the New York Times reports that a new Medicare regulation threatens to halt reimbursement of opioid medications for 1.6 million chronic pain patients.
Marijuana Boosts an Opioid’s Painkilling Power, Allowing Lower Dose: Study
The evidence of cannabis’ potential value as an opioid substitute continues to mount.
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