KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Mounting data shows the path to opioid addiction can start in the emergency room.
“There's good evidence that a month prescription of opioids can lead to opioid addiction,” said Dr. Muhammad Farhan, who is the Chief of Pain Management at University Health in Kansas City.
The CDC said the number of prescription opioids sold to pharmacies and hospitals has quadrupled between 1999 to 2010.
That’s something Farhan and a hospital emergency room in New Jersey want to see reduced.
St. Joseph University Medical Center’s emergency department launched an Alternatives to Opiates Program that reduced opioid use by about 58 percent.
Farhan believes part of the job of a physician is to find different techniques, and no one at University Health prescribes opioids at all.
“When I started this clinic, I was told it was not a reality to do a clinic without opioids. But our goal is to give people other options,” said Farhan.
That’s something Don Lockton has experienced at F.I.T. Muscle and Joint Clinic in Overland Park.
He’s gotten dry needling four times and said he is avoiding surgery or using any serious medications.
"After my initial visit I was able to flex the muscle and make a ball, which I hadn’t done in five months,” said Lockton.
Dry needling is a therapy where a thin needle pierces the skin into a trigger point, causing a muscle twitch. That reduces the tension in the muscle, restoring function.
Lockton said he has gone from 40 percent to 80 percent mobility.
“That’s great to say, from a doctor’s standpoint, to say this treatment worked. Rather than say, OK, I’m taking pain medications, maybe it’s working, maybe it’s not,” said Dana Stumpff, Doctor of Physical Therapy at F.I.T. Muscle and Joint Clinic.
Stumpff said they also work on basic exercises to retrain the muscle and make sure it goes into place.
St. Joseph University Medical Center said there have been pain clinics and emergency departments across the country inquiring about their initiative.