KnovaSolutions Member Center Login KnovaSolutions Member Center Login
The Opioid Epidemic — May 2017

The Opioid Epidemic — May 2017


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Taking Ownership and Being Part of the Solution

You’ve heard the news reports about the dangers of opioid medications such as codeine, morphine, methadone, fentanyl, hydrocodone and oxycodone. While opioids can be an appropriate and effective treatment for pain, the U.S. has the highest rates of opioid use in the world. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 80% of the world’s prescribed opioids are used in the U.S. Great risk comes with such widespread use. From 2010 to 2015, more than 500,000 people died from opioid overdoses.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued guidelines intended to help curb this trend in 2016 (see our newsletter). However, it will take more than government guidelines to solve this problem; prescribing doctors and patients can work together to be part of the solution.

Ways Opioids Are Over-Prescribed

  • For low-pain procedures, such as tooth extractions, where non-narcotic medications are sufficient to reduce pain.
  • Being sent home with a 30 day supply of pills (and a refill!) for post-operative pain when a 5-10 day supply is more than adequate.
  • When a person receives opioid prescriptions from multiple providers.

Some states have a centralized database that allows providers to check a patient’s prescription history before prescribing opioids.

Back Up, Why Are Opioids Risky?

Opioids are a type of narcotic medication that work by stopping pain messages from being sent to the brain and therefore reduce feelings of pain. They are used to treat moderate to severe pain that may not respond well to other pain medications. However, these pain medications produce habit-forming feelings of euphoria and are frequently abused: taken at a higher dose than prescribed, for longer than needed, in different forms, without a prescription and/or in combination with other medications or illicit drugs.

Regular opioid use can lead to dependence and tolerance (needing higher doses to receive the same relief), and, if misused, result in accidental death. Side effects include drowsiness, confusion, constipation, nausea/vomiting, and inability to safely drive and operate other equipment. These side effects can make it impossible or difficult to fulfill work and family responsibilities. If opioids are abruptly stopped, severe withdrawal symptoms can occur, which cause some to restart the drug.

Opioids do not mix well with alcohol and other medications like antihistamines, sleep aids and some antidepressants. Further, opioid use can lead to addiction (even when used as prescribed) and drive people to engage in other behaviors that may have negative consequences, including the use of heroin. In fact, a rise in heroin use has been linked to recent attempts to make opioids less available. Drug addiction puts stress on all members of a family, and almost certainly affects the ability to maintain consistent employment.

Since the journal Pediatrics reported that most teenagers who abuse opioids first received them from a provider (for tooth extractions/sports injuries), it is especially important to carefully evaluate the pros and cons of prescribing opioids for this age group.

Got It, Now What?

The best way to reduce the use of opioids is through open discussion between patients and healthcare providers. If you are having surgery or suffer from chronic pain, you can express your preference to use opioids in the smallest effective dose for the shortest amount of time.

Let’s say you are having surgery soon. This is your chance to work out a pain management plan with your provider — in advance! Let’s also assume that you’ve already determined that having the surgery is the right decision for you based on your situation (see our newsletter about making healthcare decisions). A pain management plan should include:

  • Discussion about current medications, your health history (physical and mental health) and any addiction concerns. This is a good time to mention a desire to minimize the use of opioids.
  • Information about medications that will be used during surgery.
  • An overview of the amount and duration of post-operative pain to be expected.
  • Discharge instructions, including what medications you will be taking when discharged.
  • Discussion about whether opioids will be needed at home and for how long, and how/when you can begin alternating them with ibuprofen and/or acetaminophen.
  • Description of other pain therapies such as ice, elevation, physical therapy, acupuncture etc.

For those who take opioids for chronic pain, it is helpful to seek a provider who is well versed in all aspects of pain management, including alternative therapies. It is also useful to regularly evaluate the risks and benefits of continued use of opioids. Such regular discussion with your provider may enable you to transition from or reduce reliance upon them. Here are sample questions for reviews:

  • Are you taking the medication as prescribed? What are your side effects and how are you managing them?
  • Has your pain changed? What actions or positions trigger discomfort and what relieves it? How is your pain responding to the medication?
  • What is your long-term pain management plan? Are there changes you can make that will move you towards less reliance on opioids?
  • If you are concerned about addiction, how can you get help?

Opioids:  Not the First Line of Treatment

Research shows that opioids are not any more effective than non-opioid alternatives, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, for treating many soft-tissue injuries and musculoskeletal problems.

Long-term use of opioids may cause an increased sensitivity to pain — a condition called hyperalgesia.

Therefore, the first line of treatment for pain might include a combination of therapies, such as ice, heat, gentle stretching, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and/or NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Aleve). Only take NSAIDS if they are safe for you given your health conditions and other medications.

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Addiction Treatment

Because of the health, safety, economic and social costs of opioid addiction, it is essential that people with opioid dependence have access to appropriate treatment. Many states are working to improve access to addiction care. As with all health concerns, a primary care provider can help patients find the care they need.

Let Us Help

Your KnovaSolutions clinician can assist you with identifying questions and/or talking points for discussions with your doctor and provide information about non-narcotic pain management options. We’ll help in any way possible and offer an empathetic ear too! Call us at 800/355-0885,    Monday through Friday, 8 am-5 pm.

Click here to view/download the full newsletter. We encourage you to leave a comment or question below and a KnovaSolutions nurse or pharmacist will reply.

The information contained in this newsletter is for general, educational purposes. It should not be considered a replacement for consultation with your healthcare provider.  If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Shared Healthcare Decision-Making — April 2017

Shared Healthcare Decision-Making — April 2017


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

How to Improve Outcomes and Decrease Costs

Numerous studies performed in the last 10 years suggest that patients who actively participate in making healthcare decisions with their doctors report greater satisfaction with their care, better outcomes and lower costs. For example, a study reported in Health Affairs of 33,163 patients at a large healthcare facility in Minnesota showed that better informed patients cost less to treat. In the first year of the study, knowledgeable patients had 8% lower treatment costs, and, in the first half of the following year, 21% lower costs, than less involved patients.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
How Short Are Your Doctor Visits? — March 2017

How Short Are Your Doctor Visits? — March 2017


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Getting the Most Out of Your Appointments

Depending upon which source you read, the average length of time a doctor spends with each patient ranges from 5 minutes to 23 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to discuss your health history, medications, symptoms and concerns — much less talk about complicated information or a new serious condition. So how can you get what you need — and deserve —during each doctor visit? All arrows point first to having a primary care provider (PCP) with whom you develop a trusting relationship.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Medication Errors at Home  — February 2017

Medication Errors at Home — February 2017


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

How to Reduce Risk and Prevent Mistakes

Prescription and over-the-counter medications provide major health improvements for people, but they also pose potential risks. Adverse drug events — harm as a result of exposure to a medication — are associated with hundreds of thousands of emergency room visits and hospitalizations each year.

Home medication errors happen all too often. In a study at the New York University School of Medicine-Bellevue Hospital, it was found that one out of five parents who measured liquid medication for their children gave them twice the directed dose. Also, nearly all the parents measured the dose incorrectly to some degree.

Confusing ear drops and eye drops, chewing non-chewable pills, and splitting pills not designed to be split are other types of errors that happen at home.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Wasteful Medical Spending — January 2017

Wasteful Medical Spending — January 2017


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Is There Anything You Can Do?

It is widely documented that the U.S. spends more on healthcare per person than any other country, yet much research shows that Americans are not healthier as a result. Wasteful spending accounts for 30 percent of the $3.2 trillion spent on healthcare each year. That’s $9.6 billion of waste per year! While this may seem like a challenge too large, there are ways to do your part to reduce wasteful spending.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

All in a Night’s Sleep — December 2016


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Recognizing and Treating Insomnia

Does it take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep? Do you wake more than 3 times a night? Do you get less than 6 hours of sleep? If you answered yes to these questions, you may suffer from insomnia.

Having trouble sleeping can happen to anyone but it is more common among women, middle-aged or older adults, shift workers, and those with medical conditions.

Insomnia can be acute or chronic. Lasting up to a month, acute insomnia is usually related to a stressful situation, such as an upcoming presentation or the start of a new job. Once the presentation has been given and the new job becomes more familiar, the insomnia often resolves. Chronic insomnia, occurring more than 3 nights a week for at least 3 months, can be caused by:

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Prediabetes Diagnosis is a ‘Gift’ — November 2016


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Taking Measures to Reduce Risk for Diabetes

More than 29 million Americans live with diabetes — a serious condition in which blood glucose (sugar in the blood) builds to dangerously high levels. What’s more, another 86 million live with prediabetes, that is, have strong risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. The Center for Disease Control states that 90% of people with prediabetes don’t know they have it!

“A diagnosis of prediabetes is a gift and a wake-up call,” says Marilyn Novosel, MPH, RN, CDE, the Certified Diabetes Educator for KnovaSolutions. “Learning that you have risk factors for developing diabetes is an opportunity to do something about it sooner rather than later.” She adds that making lifestyle changes can slow the progress, reduce the possibility of long-term complications, and for some, return blood sugar levels to normal.
Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Flu Season Starts Now — October 2016


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Who Should Have Flu and Pneumonia Shots?

Getting the flu can leave you feeling lousy and unable to attend school or work for as long as 2 weeks, and longer if complications develop. Further, having the flu can put you at higher risk for developing pneumonia and other serious conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), getting the flu shot is “the first and best way to protect yourself and your family.”

The more people who get vaccinated, the more people will be protected from the flu. In 2010, the CDC recommended that everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu shot every year unless they have a severe, life-threatening allergy to the flu vaccine or its ingredients. People who should talk with their provider before getting the flu shot include those:
Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Proton Pump Inhibitors — September 2016


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Understand the Potential Risk of Long-Term Use

Stomach acids work miracles to digest the foods we eat. But when there is too much acid, and in the wrong place, it can cause heartburn and reflux (when acid moves from the stomach back up the esophagus). It can also contribute to the development of ulcers (holes in the protective lining of the stomach, small intestine or esophagus). These conditions can cause very uncomfortable burning sensations in the chest, stomach, and even, throat. Fortunately, a variety of treatment options — over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications and lifestyle changes — can offer relief.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Does Alcohol Trigger AFib? — August 2016


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Atrial Fibrillation: A Growing Concern

Atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF) is sometimes called the quivering heart. It is the most common type of irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia. Fibrillation refers to the heart contracting very fast and irregularly.

To understand AF, it helps to think of the heart as the body’s electrical system. Each time our heart beats, an electrical signal is sent from the top of the heart to the bottom, causing it to contract and pump blood to the lungs and the rest of the body.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Activity and Fitness Trackers: Studies Show They Get People Moving — July 2016

Activity and Fitness Trackers: Studies Show They Get People Moving — July 2016


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Have you noticed people wearing stylish wrist ware or other devices, and talking about how many steps they’ve taken? Activity and fitness trackers like FitBit, Garmin, Mi Band, Jawbones and pedometers represent a burgeoning business projected to reach $19 billion by 2018. These devices are used to monitor and measure physical activity, heart rate, sleep patterns and more. A review of studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that use of a pedometer — a device that records steps taken and distance —is associated with significant increases in physical activity and decreases in body mass index and blood pressure.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Avoiding the Bulge After 50 — June 2016


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

How to Maintain a Healthy Weight

As we age, it becomes harder to drop pounds and maintain a healthy weight. That’s because our metabolism slows down, we burn fewer calories and we lose lean muscle mass. It can be discouraging and for some, dangerous. But there are ways to maintain a healthy weight after 50, and it’s never too soon — or too late — to start.

Our metabolism slows as we age due to falling hormone levels. As testosterone levels drop, men tend to add body fat to their abdominal area. As estrogen levels fall, women often see a shifting of weight from their hips and buttocks to their mid-section. Our bodies also begin losing lean muscle mass starting around age 30, which may be a result of less active lifestyles. Being less active usually leads to burning fewer calories, and that often increases weight and fat mass, and decreases muscle mass.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
New CDC Guidelines for Opioid Use — May 2016

New CDC Guidelines for Opioid Use — May 2016


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Safe Use Saves Lives and Reduces Complications

Opioids, or narcotic medications, are powerful pain killers. They can be an appropriate and effective part of managing pain, but the overuse and misuse of these prescription drugs has become a public health crisis. Since 1999, the use of opioids has quadrupled and more than 165,000 people have died from their use. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 40 Americans die from opioid overdoses every day. To improve the safety of opioids, the CDC released new guidelines in March for how these medications should be prescribed.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Telehealth: Remote Healthcare — April 2016

Telehealth: Remote Healthcare — April 2016


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Transforming Modern Medical Care

While healthcare has traditionally been delivered in a doctor’s office, hospital or outpatient clinic, technology continues to transform modern medical care. Telehealth is a broad term to describe remote healthcare services using video-conferencing equipment, mobile devices, internet access, remote monitoring devices and other tools. Telehealth promises to increase the contact between a patient and his or her providers, especially for those who live in rural areas or for whom travel to a medical facility is difficult (or even for busy working parents).

Because it can save travel time and expense for providers and patients, telehealth can improve the chances that people will receive preventive care and better management of chronic conditions. Telehealth can facilitate specialist consultations, whether the provider is across the state or across the world.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
The Shingles Vaccine: Your Risk for Shingles As You Age — March 2016

The Shingles Vaccine: Your Risk for Shingles As You Age — March 2016


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Shingles is a viral infection caused by varicella zoster, the same virus that causes chicken pox. Anyone who has had chicken pox can get shingles since the virus stays inactive in the body’s nerve tissue and can re-emerge later. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that about 1 million Americans get shingles each year, and that half of all shingles cases occur in people 60 years or older.

While anyone with a history of chickenpox can get shingles (even children), it is most common among people over 50 and those with weakened immune systems due to cancer, HIV/AIDS and other conditions. Taking certain medications, such as chemotherapy for cancer, steroids, and those drugs used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, can increase the risk of developing shingles. Asthma is under study as a potential risk factor for developing shingles.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Screening for Cancer. Breast and Colorectal Cancer Screening — February 2016

Screening for Cancer. Breast and Colorectal Cancer Screening — February 2016


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Breast and Colorectal Cancer Screening

The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates there will be nearly 1.7 million new cancer diagnoses, and nearly 600,000 cancer deaths, in 2016. While there are several risk factors for cancer you can’t control (gender, race, age, family history), there are lifestyle actions that have been associated with the prevention of cancer. Experts recommend living a healthy lifestyle, including not smoking, eating a well-balanced diet (more vegetables, fruits and whole grains/less processed food and red meat), protecting against sunburn, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy work/family balance, and having preventive screening tests that are right for you. Identifying cancer at its earlier stages increases the possibility of successful treatment.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Know Your Out-of-Pocket Costs — January 2016

Know Your Out-of-Pocket Costs — January 2016


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Know Your Out-of-Pocket Costs
With Your High-Deductible Health Plan.

A growing number of people are covered by high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). As the name implies, these plans have higher deductibles than traditional insurance plans in exchange for lower monthly premiums. HDHPs are designed to make health insurance more affordable and to provide for coverage for catastrophic illness. The deductible amount specified by the insurance plan is the amount that the insured person must pay out-of-pocket until eligible healthcare expenses are covered in a given year.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
The Problem With Antibiotics — December 2015

The Problem With Antibiotics — December 2015


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Too Much of a Good Thing Puts Us at Risk

When penicillin, the first antibiotic, was introduced in the 1940s, it began an important era of treating bacterial infections, preventing the spread of illness and reducing serious complications. Penicillin and the many other antibiotics that have been developed since have played a very important public health role throughout the world. They have successfully treated all kinds of infections caused by bacteria, such as urinary tract infections, strep throat, pneumonia, some types of ear infections, scarlet fever, Lyme disease, and skin infections.
Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Special Edition: All About Health Scores — November 2015

Special Edition: All About Health Scores — November 2015


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Your KnovaSolutions Health Score

What it is and how you can use it.

We’re all defined by numbers. Social Security number, age, height, weight, bank account, credit score. As a KnovaSolutions member, you also have a health score.

What’s that good for? Well, just as you can clean up your credit score to improve your finances, you can also work on the things that go into your health score and blaze a trail to better health.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Living With Chronic Pain: A Focus on Inflammatory and Compressive Pain — November 2015

Living With Chronic Pain: A Focus on Inflammatory and Compressive Pain — November 2015


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Chronic Pain Series

This is the last in a three-part series on chronic pain. Click here to see the first part, Chronic Pain: An Overview.  Click here for part two, Two Types of Chronic Pain: Neuropathic and Musculoskeletal Examined.

 

Millions grapple with chronic pain every day. While everyone’s pain is unique, chronic pain sufferers agree that it can affect your ability to sleep, work, perform routine activities, and enjoy life. Developing a pain management strategy often involves a process of trial and error, starting with understanding the type and source of the pain. This month KnovaSolutions focuses on inflammatory and compressive pain.
Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Two Types of Chronic Pain: Neuropathic and Musculoskeletal Examined–October 2015

Two Types of Chronic Pain: Neuropathic and Musculoskeletal Examined–October 2015


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

 

Chronic Pain Series

This is the second in a three-part series on chronic pain. Click here to see the first part, Chronic Pain: An Overview. Click here for November’s focus on inflammatory pain and mechanical/compressive pain.

If you have chronic pain, you’ve probably scored it from 1 to 10 on the happy-sad face continuum. Is your pain mild, moderate or excruciating? Is it inconvenient or incapacitating? While not all pain can be cured, most pain can be managed so it interferes less with daily life. Read on to learn more about neuropathic and musculoskeletal pain.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Chronic Pain: An Overview–September 2015

Chronic Pain: An Overview–September 2015


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

A Growing Public Health Concern

Chronic pain affects 100 million Americans according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM). That’s more than those with diabetes (25.8 million), heart disease (16.3 million), stroke (7 million) and cancer (11.9 million) combined.

Experiencing pain can take a toll on everyday life. The AAPM reports that about four in 10 Americans have pain that interferes with their mood, activities, sleep, ability to work or enjoyment of life.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Text Neck… Cell Phone Elbow – Our Gadgets are Causing Repetitive Injuries — August 2015

Text Neck… Cell Phone Elbow – Our Gadgets are Causing Repetitive Injuries — August 2015


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Text neck, cell phone elbow and texting thumb are repetitive strain injuries that didn’t exist a decade ago. Widespread use of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices have connected us globally but increased use has people complaining of strain and pain.

Text (or tech) neck refers to the strain on the neck and shoulder muscles as people tip their chin down to view their mobile devices. Looking down for long periods of time changes the natural curvature of the spine, pulling the neck out of alignment with the rest of the body. Cleveland Clinic pain specialist Robert Bolash MD explained that three things happen when you drop your head: Your neck moves forward, your shoulders round forward or lift toward your ears, and your neck and shoulder muscles tighten.  The neck is designed to support the weight of the head (10-12 pounds) when held upright. Dr. Bolash said, “For every inch you drop your head forward, you double the load on those muscles.” In a recent study published in Surgical Technology International, Kenneth K Hansraj MD calculated the alarming weights our neck muscles bear at various angles (see left).

This can cause neck, shoulder, back and arm pain, as well as headaches. While neck pain is fairly common among people as they age, adolescents who spend many hours texting or playing games on hand-held devices are joining the ranks of those complaining of such pain.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Options for Hepatitis C Sufferers: New Treatments Offer High Cure Rate–July 2015

Options for Hepatitis C Sufferers: New Treatments Offer High Cure Rate–July 2015


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Chronic hepatitis C has devastating health implications for sufferers, and society at large. An estimated 3.2 million Americans are infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), the vast majority of whom are baby boomers (born between 1945 and 1965).

The older treatments for hepatitis C virus (HCV) had about a 40 percent cure rate and a list of side effects (flu-like symptoms, extreme fatigue, depression and low white blood cell counts) that sufferers deemed worse than the disease. As a result, treatment was often not completed and therefore the disease went untreated, putting others at risk.

Continue Reading


Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail

Copyright © 2017 HCMS Group LLC.

All rights reserved.