Pain Management

White House Action Increases Opioid Prescription Monitoring at VA

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON—The White House’s announcement this summer of new steps to address the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic had a mixed message for the VA: While the administration specifically praised the VA’s new opioid prescribing policies for… Read More

VA Explores Pain Management Alternatives to Delay Opioid Use

By Annette M. Boyle WASHINGTON—Since the rollout of the VA’s Opioid Safety Initiative in 2014, the department has aggressively focused on developing non-narcotic alternatives to reduce opioid use for chronic pain. Now, attention is turning to options that delay or… Read More

Inferior VA End-of-Life Care Reported for Some Noncancer Conditions

Inferior VA End-of-Life Care Reported for Some Noncancer Conditions

Although most patients in the United States die of another condition, cancer is the focus of most end-of-life care studies.

Mindfulness Meditation Helps Veterans Control Pain

WASHINGTON — Pain is recognized as a significant health issue among the approximately 2.6 million servicemembers who have served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Gabapentin Not Effective for Chronic Low Back Pain

SAN DIEGO — The pain medication gabapentin appears to be no more effective than placebo at treating chronic low back pain, according to a study led by the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Cryoablation Promising for Phantom Limb Pain

ATLANTA — Military veterans wounded in combat, as well as patients with complex medical conditions, such as uncontrolled diabetes, make up a significant portion of those grappling with pain that seems to appear from an amputated limb.

Swedish Massage Improves Pain in Veterans With Knee OA

DURHAM, NC — Swedish massage appears to be a helpful option for VA patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. That’s according to  a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. It found that  Veterans with osteoarthritis of… Read More

Early PT Reduces Costs in Military Low Back Pain

SAN ANTONIO — Early, guideline-adherent physical therapy following an initial episode of acute, nonspecific low back pain (LBP) resulted in substantially lower costs and reduced use of healthcare resources over a two-year period. That’s according to a study published in… Read More

How Effective Is Nicotine for Post-Operative Pain?

PORTLAND, OR — With acute pain a frequent problem after surgical procedures, nicotine has been explored as an adjunctive medication for management of postoperative pain. A research analysis published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (CDSR) sought to determine… Read More

Long-Term Opioid Use Increases Depression Risk

LOUIS — While opioids can cause short-term improvement in mood as patients experience pain relief, long-term use of the drugs increases risk of new-onset depression, according to a new study. The research, published recently in the Annals of Family Medicine,… Read More

Caution Urged in Prescribing Benzodiazepines to Veterans Using Opioids

Caution Urged in Prescribing Benzodiazepines to Veterans Using Opioids

Researchers are urging VA clinicians to be cautious about prescribing benzodiazepines to veterans already taking opioid painkillers.

That’s in light of a new study, published online recently by the British Medical Journal, finding that nearly half of all veterans who died from drug overdoses while on opioids were also receiving higher doses of benzodiazepines, often used for anxiety, insomnia or alcohol withdrawal.

Early Physical Therapy Reduces Back Pain Costs

SAN ANTONIO — Following an initial episode of acute, nonspecific low-back pain (LBP), early and guideline-adherent physical therapy resulted in substantially lower costs and reduced use of healthcare resources over a two-year period, according to a study conducted within the… Read More

Duration of Opioid Action Affects Unintentional Overdoses

BOSTON — Clinicians weighing the risks and benefits of prescribing different opioid regimens should take not only the daily dose into consideration but also the duration of the opioid action, according to a new study. That study, published recently in… Read More

Opioid Prescribing Showed Great Variance Across VHA

IOWA CITY, IA – Opioid prescribing dramatically increased at the VHA during an eight year period ending in 2012 but demonstrated wide variation in prevalence and incident rates across geographical region, sex and age groups. Prevalence and incidence rates reflect… Read More

How Medical Marijuana Laws Affect Opioid Mortality

PHILADELPHIA – Could wider use of medical marijuana reduce mortality from opioid analgesic overdose? That question is raised by a study published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine.1 Noting that opioid analgesic overdose mortality continues to rise in the United States, driven… Read More

Direct Visual Observation Therapy Relieves Phantom-Limb Pain

BETHESDA, MD – With as many as one-third of unilateral=limb amputees suffering regularly from phantom limb pain, military medicine has been in search of an inexpensive and effective treatment. A study published recently in the Annals of Clinical and Translational… Read More

Pain Is a Growing Issue for Troops and Veterans; Safer Remedies Sought

Pain Is a Growing Issue for Troops and Veterans; Safer Remedies Sought

WASHINGTON – Trauma-related pain – both acute and chronic — has always been a universal problem among war-injured troops.

Telecare Program Effectively Manages Pain, Reduces Opioid Use in VA Patients

Telecare Program Effectively Manages Pain, Reduces Opioid Use in VA Patients

By Brenda L. Mooney INDIANAPOLIS  –  A yearlong VA telecare program to manage chronic pain due to arthritis or other musculoskeletal disorders not only doubled the likelihood of improvement for veterans in the intervention program but also demonstrated that patients… Read More

Research Finds Unexpectedly High Rates of Pain, Opioid Use in Recently Deployed Soldiers

Research Finds Unexpectedly High Rates of Pain, Opioid Use in Recently Deployed Soldiers

By Annette M. Boyle SILVER SPRING, MD – Skyrocketing prescription opioid use in the civilian population has attracted widespread medical and media attention. While the DoD and VA implemented a pain management task force in 2010, relatively little research has… Read More

FDA Adds Warning to Corticosteroid Injection Labels

WASHINGTON – Corticosteroid injections given to treat neck and back pain, as well as radiating pain in the arms and legs, can have rare but serious adverse effects, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Noting that those side… Read More

Greater Alternative Therapy Use Gradually Decreases Opioid Dependence in Military

Greater Alternative Therapy Use Gradually Decreases Opioid Dependence in Military

WASHINGTON – The use of opioids has slightly decreased in the military, an Army official told lawmakers last month.

Chronic Pain Med Use Increases Depression Incidence

ST. LOUIS – Chronic use of pain-relieving medication can increase in the risk of developing major depression, according to a new veterans study. The study, led by researchers from Saint Louis University and published recently in the Journal of General… Read More