Opioid Use in Primary Care: Asking the Right Questions
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- Lewis, E.T. & Trafton, J.A. Curr Pain Headache Rep (2011) 15: 137. doi:10.1007/s11916-010-0172-0
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Pain is one of the most common reasons that patients seek treatment from health care professionals, often their primary care providers. One tool for treating pain is opioid therapy, and opioid prescriptions have increased dramatically in recent years in the United States. This article will review recent research about opioids that is most relevant to treating chronic pain in the context of a typical primary care practice. It will focus on four key practices that providers can engage in before and during the course of opioid therapy that we believe will enhance the likelihood that opioids, when used, are an effective tool for pain management: avoiding sole reliance on opioids; using adequate opioid doses to address pain; mitigating the risk of opioid misuse by patients; and fostering collaborative relationships for treating complex patients.