An Institutional Approach to Managing the Opioid CrisisThe opioid crisis is a major concern of most health care institutions, including our large academic center. In this article, an organized approach to managing the epidemic institutionally is discussed. An Opioid Stewardship Program was instituted at our tertiary-care center with multiple sites and states of practice, which included diverse membership and expertise. Charges of the program included reviewing current practice, workflows, and external and internal guidelines and evaluating and standardizing prescribing practices.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid-Use DisorderThe United States is in the midst of a national opioid epidemic. Physicians are encouraged both to prevent and treat opioid-use disorders (OUDs). Although there are 3 Food and Drug Administration-approved medications to treat OUD (methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone) and there is ample evidence of their efficacy, they are not used as often as they should. We provide a brief review of the 3 primary medications used in the treatment of OUD. Using data from available medical literature, we synthesize existing knowledge and provide a framework for how to determine the optimal approach for outpatient management of OUD with medication-assisted treatments.
Chronic ConstipationConstipation is a common symptom that may be primary (idiopathic or functional) or associated with a number of disorders or medications. Although most constipation is self-managed by patients, 22% seek health care, mostly to primary care physicians (>50%) and gastroenterologists (14%), resulting in large expenditures for diagnostic testing and treatments. There is strong evidence that stimulant and osmotic laxatives, intestinal secretagogues, and peripherally restricted μ-opiate antagonists are effective and safe; the lattermost drugs are a major advance for managing opioid-induced constipation.
Management Options for Irritable Bowel SyndromeIrritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is associated with diverse pathophysiologic mechanisms. These mechanisms include increased abnormal colonic motility or transit, intestinal or colorectal sensation, increased colonic bile acid concentration, and superficial colonic mucosal inflammation, as well as epithelial barrier dysfunction, neurohormonal up-regulation, and activation of secretory processes in the epithelial layer. Novel approaches to treatment include lifestyle modification, changes in diet, probiotics, and pharmacotherapy directed to the motility, sensation, and intraluminal milieu of patients with IBS.
Advances in the Treatment of Sickle Cell DiseaseSickle cell disease (SCD) is a monogenic disorder that afflicts approximately 100,000 Americans and millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by hemolytic anemia, vaso-occlusive crises, relentless end-organ injury, and premature death. Currently, red blood cell transfusion and hydroxyurea are the major disease-modifying therapies available for SCD. Hematopoetic stem cell transplant is curative, but barriers to treatment are substantial and include a lack of suitable donors, immunologic transplant rejection, long-term adverse effects, prognostic uncertainty, and poor end-organ function, which is especially problematic for older patients.
Opioid-Induced Adrenal InsufficiencyOne in 10 Americans experience chronic pain. Although opioids do play a role in the management of pain, long-term opioid use may lead to adverse effects. Endocrine-related adverse effects have been described but remain poorly recognized. Opioid-induced adrenal insufficiency occurs because of suppression of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal communication and may be challenging to diagnose but has been reported in 9% to 29% of patients receiving long-term opiate therapy. Little data exist to guide case detection and patient management.
How Good Intentions Contributed to Bad Outcomes: The Opioid CrisisThe opioid crisis that exists today developed over the past 30 years. The reasons for this are many. Good intentions to improve pain and suffering led to increased prescribing of opioids, which contributed to misuse of opioids and even death. Following the publication of a short letter to the editor in a major medical journal declaring that those with chronic pain who received opioids rarely became addicted, prescriber attitude toward opioid use changed. Opioids were no longer reserved for treatment of acute pain or terminal pain conditions but now were used to treat any pain condition.
Diagnosis and Management of Headache in Older AdultsHeadache is a common, disabling neurologic problem in all age groups, including older adults. In older adults, headache is most likely a primary disorder, such as tension-type headache or migraine; however, there is a higher risk of secondary causes, such as giant cell arteritis or intracranial lesions, than in younger adults. Thus, based on the headache history, clinical examination, and presence of headache red flags, a focused diagnostic evaluation is recommended, ranging from blood tests to neuroimaging, depending on the headache characteristics.
Clinical Interpretation of Urine Drug Tests: What Clinicians Need to Know About Urine Drug ScreensUrine drug testing is frequently used in clinical, employment, educational, and legal settings and misinterpretation of test results can result in significant adverse consequences for the individual who is being tested. Advances in drug testing technology combined with a rise in the number of novel misused substances present challenges to clinicians to appropriately interpret urine drug test results. Authors searched PubMed and Google Scholar to identify published literature written in English between 1946 and 2016, using urine drug test, screen, false-positive, false-negative, abuse, and individual drugs of abuse as key words.
Understanding Palliative Care and Hospice: A Review for Primary Care ProvidersPalliative care provides invaluable clinical management and support for patients and their families. For most people, palliative care is not provided by hospice and palliative medicine specialists, but rather by their primary care providers. The recognition of hospice and palliative medicine as its own medical subspecialty in 2006 highlighted the importance of palliative care to the practice of medicine, yet many health care professionals harbor misconceptions about palliative care, which may be a barrier to ensuring that the palliative care needs of their patients are identified and met in a timely fashion.
Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder: International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH) Expert Consensus Panel ReviewThe objective of the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health expert consensus panel was to develop a concise, clinically relevant, evidence-based review of the epidemiology, physiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), a sexual dysfunction affecting approximately 10% of adult women. Etiologic factors include conditions or drugs that decrease brain dopamine, melanocortin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine levels and augment brain serotonin, endocannabinoid, prolactin, and opioid levels.
Anorectal and Pelvic PainAlthough pelvic pain is a symptom of several structural anorectal and pelvic disorders (eg, anal fissure, endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease), this comprehensive review will focus on the 3 most common nonstructural, or functional, disorders associated with pelvic pain: functional anorectal pain (ie, levator ani syndrome, unspecified anorectal pain, and proctalgia fugax), interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome, and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. The first 2 conditions occur in both sexes, while the latter occurs only in men.
Common Functional Gastroenterological Disorders Associated With Abdominal PainAlthough abdominal pain is a symptom of several structural gastrointestinal disorders (eg, peptic ulcer disease), this comprehensive review will focus on the 4 most common nonstructural, or functional, disorders associated with abdominal pain: functional dyspepsia, constipation-predominant and diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome, and functional abdominal pain syndrome. Together, these conditions affect approximately 1 in 4 people in the United States. They are associated with comorbid conditions (eg, fibromyalgia and depression), impaired quality of life, and increased health care utilization.
Chronic Pain and Mental Health Disorders: Shared Neural Mechanisms, Epidemiology, and TreatmentChronic pain and mental health disorders are common in the general population, and epidemiological studies suggest that a bidirectional relationship exists between these 2 conditions. The observations from functional imaging studies suggest that this bidirectional relationship is due in part to shared neural mechanisms. In addition to depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders, individuals with chronic pain are at risk of other mental health problems including suicide and cigarette smoking and many have sustained sexual violence.
Future Directions in Pain Management: Integrating Anatomically Selective Delivery Techniques With Novel Molecularly Selective AgentsTreatment for chronic, locoregional pain ranks among the most prevalent unmet medical needs. The failure of systemic analgesic drugs, such as opioids, is often due to their off-target toxicity, development of tolerance, and abuse potential. Interventional pain procedures provide target specificity but lack pharmacologically selective agents with long-term efficacy. Gene therapy vectors are a new tool for the development of molecularly selective pain therapies, which have already been proved to provide durable analgesia in preclinical models.
Opioid Use in Fibromyalgia: A Cautionary TaleMultiple pharmacotherapies are available for the treatment of fibromyalgia (FM), including opioid analgesics. We postulate that the mechanism of action of traditional opioids predicts their lack of efficacy in FM. Literature searches of the MEDLINE and Cochrane Library databases were conducted using the search term opioid AND fibromyalgia to identify relevant articles, with no date limitations set. Citation lists in returned articles and personal archives of references were also examined for additional relevant items, and articles were selected based on the expert opinions of the authors.
Advanced Innovations for PainChronic pain represents one of the most important public health problems in terms of both the number of patients afflicted and health care costs. Most patients with chronic pain are treated with medications as the mainstay of therapy, and yet most medically treated patients continue to report ongoing pain. Additionally, adverse effects from pain medications represent a major challenge for clinicians and patients. Spinal cord stimulation and intrathecal drug delivery systems are well-established techniques that have been utilized for over 25 years.
Evaluation and Treatment of Low Back Pain: A Clinically Focused Review for Primary Care SpecialistsLow back pain (LBP) is a leading cause of disability worldwide. In the absence of a classification system for pain syndromes, classification of LBP on the basis of the distribution of pain as axial (pain generally localized to the low back) or radicular neuropathic (pain radiating to the lower extremities) is relevant to clinical practice because the distribution of pain is often a corollary of frequently occurring disease processes involving the lumbar spine. Common sources of axial LBP include the intervertebral disc, facet joint, sacroiliac joint, and paraspinal musculature, whereas common sources of radicular pain include a herniated intervertebral disc and spinal stenosis.
Cancer Pain ManagementSafe, effective, and evidence-based management of cancer-related pain is a cornerstone of comprehensive cancer care. Despite increasing interest in and efforts to improve its management, pain remains poorly controlled in nearly half of all patients with cancer, with little change in the past 20 years. Limited training in pain assessment and management, overestimation of providers' own skills to treat pain, and failure to refer patients to pain specialists can result in suboptimal pain management with devastating effects on quality of life, physical functioning, and increased psychological distress.
Alternative Splicing of G Protein–Coupled Receptors: Relevance to Pain ManagementDrugs that target G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) represent the primary treatment strategy for patients with acute and chronic pain; however, there is substantial individual variability in both the efficacy and adverse effects associated with these drugs. Variability in drug responses is due, in part, to individuals’ diversity in alternative splicing of pain-relevant GPCRs. G protein–coupled receptor alternative splice variants often exhibit distinct tissue distribution patterns, drug-binding properties, and signaling characteristics that may impact disease pathology as well as the extent and direction of analgesic effects.
Opioid AnalgesicsChronic pain is an international health issue of immense importance that is influenced by both physical and psychological factors. Opioids are useful in treating chronic pain but have accompanying complications. It is important for clinicians to understand the basics of opioid pharmacology, the benefits and adverse effects of opioids, and related problematic issues of tolerance, dependence, and opioid-induced hyperalgesia. In this article, the role of psychiatric comorbidity and the use of validated assessment tools to identify individuals who are at the greatest risk for opioid misuse are discussed.
Peripheral Neuropathy: A Practical Approach to Diagnosis and Symptom ManagementPeripheral neuropathy is one of the most prevalent neurologic conditions encountered by physicians of all specialties. Physicians are faced with 3 distinct challenges in caring for patients with peripheral neuropathy: (1) how to efficiently and effectively screen (in less than 2 minutes) an asymptomatic patient for peripheral neuropathy when they have a disorder in which peripheral neuropathy is highly prevalent (eg, diabetes mellitus), (2) how to clinically stratify patients presenting with symptoms of neuropathy to determine who would benefit from specialty consultation and what testing is appropriate for those who do not need consultation, and (3) how to treat the symptoms of painful peripheral neuropathy.
Tapering Long-term Opioid Therapy in Chronic Noncancer Pain: Evidence and Recommendations for Everyday PracticeIncreasing concern about the risks and limited evidence supporting the therapeutic benefit of long-term opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain are leading prescribers to consider discontinuing the use of opioids. In addition to overt addiction or diversion, the presence of adverse effects, diminishing analgesia, reduced function and quality of life, or the absence of progress toward functional goals can justify an attempt at weaning patients from long-term opioid therapy. However, discontinuing opioid therapy is often hindered by patients’ psychiatric comorbidities and poor coping skills, as well as the lack of formal guidelines for the prescribers.
Fibromyalgia and Related ConditionsFibromyalgia is the currently preferred term for widespread musculoskeletal pain, typically accompanied by other symptoms such as fatigue, memory problems, and sleep and mood disturbances, for which no alternative cause can be identified. Earlier there was some doubt about whether there was an “organic basis” for these related conditions, but today there is irrefutable evidence from brain imaging and other techniques that this condition has strong biological underpinnings, even though psychological, social, and behavioral factors clearly play prominent roles in some patients.
Neuropathic Pain: Principles of Diagnosis and TreatmentNeuropathic pain is caused by disease or injury of the nervous system and includes various chronic conditions that, together, affect up to 8% of the population. A substantial body of neuropathic pain research points to several important contributory mechanisms including aberrant ectopic activity in nociceptive nerves, peripheral and central sensitization, impaired inhibitory modulation, and pathological activation of microglia. Clinical evaluation of neuropathic pain requires a thorough history and physical examination to identify characteristic signs and symptoms.