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Are there better ways to treat chronic pain?

A federal health panel at work since 2016 recently released a draft report that recommends a balanced, individual patient-centered approach to treating acute and chronic pain, focused on the following:

Risk assessment: A thorough look at patient medical, social, and family history, including all medical conditions and medications.

Alternative treatments: Consideration of physical, occupational, massage and aqua therapies.

Integrative health: Consideration of practices that include acupuncture, yoga, tai chi and meditation.

Mental health support: Including cognitive behavioral therapy and teaching coping skills.

More specialists: A larger workforce of pain specialists and behavioral health clinicians to help guide and support appropriately trained primary care clinicians.

More education and training: For providers, patients and the public, so all better understand choices and therapies, which should help address stigma and improve treatment outcomes.

Innovative solutions: Greater efforts to spur new medicines, minimally invasive surgeries and medical devices.

More research: To develop a better understanding of the mechanisms of pain, and pain prevention and treatment tools.

A focus on special populations: Including children, women, older adults, active-duty soldiers and veterans, and minority groups.

Source: Pain Management Best Practices Inter-Agency Task Force draft report, which will be submitted to Congress later this year after the public comment period ends this month.

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