Pain Management

Pain Continuity, Not Headache Type, Affects Return to Duty

FORT BRAGG, NC — Headaches and how to manage the pain are difficult issues for soldiers who suffered mild traumatic brain injury during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and their care providers.

Why Opioids Are Discontinued in VHA Patients

PORTLAND, OR—Discontinuation of opioids can be accelerated for several reasons, according to a new study, including lack of information about the long-term effectiveness of opioids for chronic pain, heightened awareness about opioid-related adverse events, closer monitoring of patients for opioid-related aberrant behaviors, and greater restrictions around opioid prescribing.

Opioid Use Generally Moderate in OEF, OIF, OND Veterans

LITTLE ROCK, AR — With continuing concern about opioid use in veterans, especially those serving in Afghanistan (OEF) and Iraq (OIF and OND), a new study provided a detailed analysis of the issue.

Opioid Safety Initiative Drives Down Prescriptions for High-Dose Painkillers

Opioid Safety Initiative Drives Down Prescriptions for High-Dose Painkillers

Thanks to a national initiative begun at the VHA in 2013, fewer veterans are receiving prescriptions for risky dosages of opioid painkillers.

Younger Veterans Much More Likely to Suffer Severe Pain Than Nonveterans

Younger Veterans Much More Likely to Suffer Severe Pain Than Nonveterans

Veterans, especially those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, are about 40% more likely to experience severe pain than nonveterans, according to a new study.

Veterans Who Abuse Non-Medical Opioids Have High Risk of Using Heroin

Veterans Who Abuse Non-Medical Opioids Have High Risk of Using Heroin

Veterans who misuse opioid painkillers have a very high risk of also beginning to use heroin, according to a new study.

Pain Levels Improve in Most VA-Treated Veterans As They Age

Pain Levels Improve in Most VA-Treated Veterans As They Age

Time is said to heal all wounds, and that might also be the case with older military veterans suffering from pain.

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