CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- Across the country health care providers continue to fight the opioid epidemic. The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is focusing on a new program to stop opioid dependency before it starts. The Pain Rehabilitation Program is now open in MUSC's Wellness Center. It's the first program of its kind in the state and aims to help people stop using opioids for pain management.
Shayna Epstein, MUSC Ambulatory Services Operations Manager, says, "People in this program have really suffered with chronic pain. So they've been in pain for years, and years, and sometimes people have gone through surgeries, they've seen their primary doctor, they're seeing specialists and they're still in pain."
Opioid medications are not helping either.
Dr. Sharlene Wedin, Associate Professor at MUSC says, "There can be some unintended consequences for these patients where they start to have decreased functioning or decreased quality of life and they become kind of stuck there. This is a sticking point for both physicians and patients because there aren't other treatment options really available to them."
Until now. People with chronic pain can ditch the drugs by going to MUSC's Pain Rehabilitation Program for a nine hour a day, three week program using alternative treatments in a group setting.
Epstein says, "They're doing physical therapy, occupational therapy. They're meeting with our psychologists for group therapy for pain management, they're able to use our wellness center, they get nursing services, and they're also meeting with our medical doctor as well."
The program started with a pilot group of four patients, all with different types of pain. Doctors say at the end of three weeks, all four saw success.
Wedin says, "All of them were off of their pain medications. They were reporting lots of improvements both emotionally as well as physically, so it really highlighted how much can be done in a three week time that is maybe not possible even over longer periods of time but with a less intensive treatment program."
People who are interested in signing up for the program can call (843) 792-6895.