Tomah VA Offers Veteran Patients Alternatives For Managing Pain

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Providing opioid alternatives to patients gives them an opportunity to manage pain without potentially undergoing painkiller-related adverse effects. For our country's military, one VA is making the implementation of this approach its priority.

The Tomah VA, located in Tomah, Wisconsin, is encouraging its physicians to provide a variety of pain management therapy techniques to veterans on opioid regiments.

To accommodate patients, the hospital offers programs such as aquatic therapy, acupuncture, aromatherapy and physical therapy. In addition, it gives veterans the opportunity to learn about the origination of pain and its effects on the body in what it calls “pain school.”

VA acting medical director John Rohrer told WXOW 19 that the biggest challenge is doctors having difficult conversations with veteran patients.

"You have to have those alternatives in place to even have the conversations," Rohrer told the local news station. "So I applaud the staff in what they've done in trying to develop those."

Veterans overdosing on opioids has been a hot topic of discussion in the news as of late. For example, half of veterans who died from drug overdoses had been prescribed both opioids, for pain, as well as benzodiazepines for conditions like anxiety, and insomnia, according to a recent analysis of post mortem VA records conducted and presented by by Rhode Island Hospital, Boston Medical Center, and the Veteran Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare Systems.

The Tomah VA told WXOW 19 that it has decreased the number of veterans on high doses of opioid by 35% since the beginning of the Opioid Safety Initiative in January 2014.

Opioid prescribing rates vary drastically by region
Providing opioid alternatives to patients gives them an opportunity to manage pain without potentially undergoing painkiller-related adverse effects.
The Tomah VA is responding to allegations of over prescription of pain medications by offering a variety of pain management therapy techniques to veterans on opioid regiments. The hospital offers programs like aquatic therapy, acupuncture, aromatherapy and physical therapy. It even offers a "pain school," teaching veterans about the origination of pain and its effects on the body.
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