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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that overdoses from prescription painkillers kill more people than heroin and cocaine combined. (Shutterstock/Halfpoint)

It may be obvious, but it is important to keep in mind: Pain hurts. That simple fact can make it difficult for employers, employees and providers to see beyond the quick fix mentality of using opioids as a first line of defense to mitigate pain.

It’s an important issue as the level, extent and duration of pain is critical to the management and return-to-work (RTW) strategies of Workers’ Compensation programs. Is the first line of treatment opioids? They do relieve pain and patients prefer them for obvious reasons. Or should the initial treatment consist of physical therapy (PT) combined with less addictive analgesics?

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