An emergency department in Ohio is reporting that they have been able to reduce their reliance on opioid painkillers for headache treatment by 82% both during treatment and after leaving the ER, without affecting the results patients experience.

The Problem with Opioid Painkillers

Accidental poisoning now takes more lives than car accidents in the US, and the majority of those poisoning deaths were due to prescription opioid painkillers. These painkillers can be highly addictive, taking people from an occasional use for pain to a constant need for the medication. In addition, there is a large secondary market for prescription painkillers, with excess medications being stolen from medicine cabinets and sold or given to people who are addicted or who want to use them recreationally.

Misuse or overuse of painkillers in ERs expose people to these dangers and when people leave the ER with an inappropriate prescription for them, it’s likely they will end up with a significant supply that can be diverted to the secondary market or to addicts.

A Better Approach to Headaches

Before their new approach, the ER reported that about two-thirds of their patients who came in with a headache were given opioid painkillers. And nearly half of headache patients left the ER with a prescription for those medications.

However, once the ER implemented its new algorithm, those rates dropped to 12 and 8% respectively.

The ER algorithm accomplished this by giving doctors a clear-cut list of symptoms that indicated specific types of headaches, such as migraines or cluster headaches. The new algorithm then recommended certain treatment options in a precise sequence designed to target each type of headache. If patients didn’t see a 50% reduction in headache pain within two hours, they were moved on to the next type of treatment protocol. As a result, although pain medication use dropped, pain relief actually increased with the new algorithm. Before the algorithm, 63% of patients reported a 50% pain reduction, while afterwards 68% reported that level of pain reduction.

TMJ Treatment Is Drug-Free Headache Relief

If you are looking for a treatment for your chronic headaches that involves no drugs, TMJ treatment may be just right for you. The source of many headaches, including tension headaches and migraine headaches, isn’t in your head, it’s in your jaw. Nerve irritation and muscle tension caused by an imbalanced bite can lead to multiple types of headaches and face pain.

To learn whether TMJ treatment is right for your headache, please call (303) 691-0267 at the TMJ Therapy & Sleep Center of Colorado in Denver today.