The ALTO® Approach to Pain Management

The United States is in the middle of an epidemic, seeing an increasing number of preventable deaths and emergency department visits due to prescription opioid abuse. Every year, healthcare providers write over 250 million prescriptions for pain killers, enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills. And every day, 46 people die from an overdose of prescription pain killers in the U.S.

For the majority of painful conditions opioids should not be the first line treatment. In fact, selected conditions such as headache and acute low back pain can be made worse when opioids are used. Physicians must be aware of the non-opioid modalities and medications available, and work to integrate them into their day-to-day practice.

The Emergency Department at St. Joseph’s University Medical Center is the first in the United States to launch an Alternatives to Opioids Program (ALTO®), a highly successful and unique approach to acute pain management without the use of opioids. Initial results of the St. Joseph’s ALTO® program are very promising. Up to 75% of patients have achieved adequate pain relief with alternative therapies and there has been a decrease in opioid use by over 50% since the inception of the program.