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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.

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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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