• Cleveland Clinic Program Looks to Change First-Option for Pain

    October 6, 2016: The American health care system is currently grappling with how to safely prescribe opioids, a group of drugs that can be key to the successful treatment of severe acute pain, but that can be dangerous, even deadly, when used long-term for the treatment of chronic pain.

    In an August 17 article for TIME Magazine, Dr Andre Machado, chairman of the Neurological Institute and the Charles and Christine Carroll Family Endowed of the Cleveland Clinic, compared prescription opioids to an airplane that is easy to get off the ground but difficult to land.

    That’s why the Cleveland Clinic is in the midst of a large pilot program for patients with chronic pain in which prescription of opioids will be considered, but not as the starting point. Instead, the program will rely more heavily on physical therapy and mental health therapy, both backed by evidence for the safe long-term management of pain.

    In this episode of Move Forward Radio, Dr Machado and Ian Stephens, a physical therapist participating in the pilot program, discuss not only how the health care system must adapt in response to America’s opioid epidemic, but also how the mentality of patients must change—shifting our focus from the elimination of pain to the improvement of function.

    APTA's #ChoosePT campaign is raising awareness about safe alternatives to opioids for long-term pain management.

    Download the podcast on iTunes or listen below:

    Andre Machado, MD, PhD, is chairman of the Neurological Institute and the Charles and Christine Carroll Family Endowed Chair in Functional Neurosurgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. He also is program director for education in Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery, and is full-time staff in the Department of Neurosurgery, with joint appointments in the Department of Neuroscience and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute. He oversees a large-scale pilot program to analyze the use of physical therapy treatment for chronic back and leg pain, ultimately aiming to reduce the reliance on opioids and other invasive procedures.

    Ian Stephens, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist and board-certified clinical specialist in orthopaedic physical therapy. He is a faculty member for Cleveland Clinic’s orthopaedic physical therapy residency program. His clinical interests include low back pain, neck pain, headache, and chronic pain. He is currently working on a large-scale pilot program to analyze the use of physical therapy treatment for chronic back and leg pain, ultimately aiming to reduce the reliance on opioids and other invasive procedures.