As the country grapples with both the Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing opioid crisis, chronic pain management has become more challenging than ever.
Traditional therapies for chronic pain often rely on opioid-based treatments that run an outsized risk of addiction. Other treatment options include physical therapy, implants, and steroid injections, but these require frequent visits to a doctor’s office. Particularly during the pandemic, it has been difficult for chronic pain patients to overcome backlogs when those with acute conditions have been prioritized by an overwhelmed health care system.
Increasingly, startups are trying to address chronic pain with digital health tools like phone apps. They offer physical and psychological treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy and telehealth counseling, representing a growing consensus that effective pain treatment is multimodal. Their revenue models tend to rely on long-term subscriptions, some of which may be reimbursed by insurance — but many of which won’t be, a potential barrier to their widespread and equitable adoption.
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