Our Take: FDA Proposes Doctors Learn About New Treatments for Chronic Pain
On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released proposed changes to its education blueprint for healthcare providers who support patients with pain management. The suggested updates recommend that doctors get educated on alternative treatments for chronic pain, particularly acupuncture and chiropractic care. While we’re pleased to see the FDA making these recommendations, we believe that doctors must broaden the spectrum of alternative treatments they suggest to patients beyond just chiropractic care and acupuncture.
We know that pain is personal for anyone living with a chronic pain condition — and that means that the key to managing it is knowing what other options are available to find relief and regain quality of life. This begins with the patient feeling empowered to ask about what else is available, but also the doctor knowing what’s out there to suggest to patients, beyond just opioids. If there is not an ask or an offer, those living with chronic pain are left behind, unable to find the relief they are looking for and left wondering what else is available to them. This can be a long, exhausting and, sometimes, expensive journey.
The new guidelines get to this idea — doctors must be informed about the range of alternative treatments to help their patients find the right combination of treatment modalities to improve their quality of life and lessen their pain. The FDA’s proposed changes state that doctors should include nonpharmacologic and pharmacologic therapies as part of a patient’s chronic pain management plan (we call this the “toolbox” approach). It’s promising to see the FDA suggest psychological, physical rehabilitative, surgical and complementary approaches to treating chronic pain, but we hope in the future that technology is a bigger part of the conversation. Not only can technology solutions, such as Quell, have the power to alleviate someone’s pain, but it comes with limited (if any) side effects and is not an invasive therapy to try.
The FDA blueprint isn’t yet final. Physicians, consumers, drug manufacturers, technology and alternative medicine providers have the opportunity to share their comments through July 10. We hope that during this time, the power of technology is brought up as another complementary treatment that doctors should learn about and begin recommending to patients.
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