The Alliance for Balanced Pain Management (AfBPM), a diverse collective of 24 health care advocacy groups, patient organizations, industry representatives and other stakeholders, held its second National Summit on Nov. 12 and 13, 2015, to identify continued ways to support appropriate access to integrated pain management and responsible use of prescription pain medicines with an aim to improve patient safety and reduce abuse.
"Patient safety, responsible medicine use and access to appropriate care – such as physical therapy and rehabilitation, psychological counseling, complementary care and medicine – are important components of balanced pain management that benefit both people with pain and society at large," said Bob Twillman, PhD, Executive Director for the American Academy of Pain Management, member of the AfBPM and a keynote speaker at the AfBPM Summit.
"It's critical that we move from a one-size-fits-all approach to one that considers individual factors such as age, physical abilities and support systems to optimize pain management," Twillman said. "We also need to make sure that people are aware of potential risks and issues associated with some pain medicines and that we safeguard medicines if they are prescribed."
Awareness about potential unintended consequences associated with pain management is growing, but more can be done to broaden the reach and impact of the messages, AfBPM members noted. These unintended consequences take many forms – a family member self-treating pain with pills prescribed for someone else, a teenager accessing unsecured pills for recreational use left in a home, or an elderly surgical patient affected by adverse events such as respiratory depression from medicines. AfBPM members stress that education remains a critical component in raising awareness of options other than medicine for persons with pain in managing their pain and importantly in reducing misuse, abuse and diversion of pain medicines when these are needed.
Earlier in 2015, AfBPM created and distributed a checklist to guide people on when and how to safely use, store and dispose of pain medicine and conducted a national survey to gather information about people experiencing pain, including barriers to care. In 2016, AfBPM will continue to focus on access to appropriate care, patient safety and responsible use of medicine in the hospital and out-patient settings, including developing programs to educate people about the importance of individualized and integrated care, the availability of complementary alternatives to using medications alone, safeguarding medicines if prescribed, and awareness around potential issues associated with some pain medicines, such as increased risk for falls, constipation or respiratory distress.
Goals of the Alliance for Balanced Pain Management
- Ensure people with or affected by pain have appropriate access to integrated, effective and safe care across the continuum of care, raising awareness of the need for individualized treatment such as physical therapy and rehabilitation, psychological counseling, social support, other complementary approaches and multimodal analgesia, which can help prevent opioid-related adverse events such as falls, constipation and other potential issues.
- Reinforce the critical need to safely prescribe, dispense, take, store and dispose of prescription medicines with an aim to reduce abuse, misuse and diversion.
- Support organizations and individuals who share a common goal to reduce pain, improve care and advocate for responsible use of medicine.
- Share tools and materials for its members to educate their constituents and the public about integrated pain management strategies and responsible use of medicine.
Defining Balanced Pain Management
AfBPM defines balanced pain management as a comprehensive approach to diagnosing, treating and controlling pain. In a balanced approach to pain management, people with pain along with family members and caregivers learn to manage pain effectively in safe, effective, responsible and healthy ways. Balanced pain management uses multi-pronged approaches that address the physical, emotional and social components of pain to improve quality of life, increase function and reduce suffering, while affirming the safe and responsible use of medicines if they are prescribed.
Chronic pain affects an estimated 100 million Americans, and an untold number of people are affected by acute pain. Important attention is being given to the rise in abuse, misuse and diversion of prescription pain medicines, yet many people still receive inadequate pain assessment and treatment. Proper medical treatment can include physical therapy and rehabilitation, psychological counseling, social support, medicine and other complementary approaches.