How this test and its results can help with treatment
By Colleen Travers
Using urinalysis in medicine is nothing new, particularly when trying to diagnose certain diseases or pinpointing a urinary tract infection. Urinalysis is also used as a tool to get a glimpse into a patient’s full health profile, as everything from the color, smell, specific gravity, and pH level can tell a lot about what the patient is metabolizing. And while urinalysis is routinely done during a primary care visit, making it a regular part of podiatry protocol could help treatment be more effective for both the doctor and patient.
Podiatric physicians frequently manage acute pain with opioids. This treatment is helpful and usually successful, helping the patient find relief without anycomplications. In the case of chronic pain resulting from nerve damage, arthritis, or side effects from other diseases such as diabetes, prescribing opioids for long-term pain management can be trickier. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that 21 to 29 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them, and every day approximately 130 people in the U.S. die from overdosing on opioids. Utilizing urinalysis before outlining a treatment course could impact not only the success rate for a podiatric patient but could also minimize their risk for developing an opioid disorder. The test has a two-fold approach when it comes to managing opioid consumption. For example, using urinalysis before diagnosing any medication will help podiatric physicians see exactly what is already in the patient’s system. Because while physicians expect a patient to inform them of any medications they are currently taking, leaving the disclosure to the patient can be risky. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that taking high dosages of opioid prescriptions daily or taking overlapping prescriptions for pain management from multiple physicians are two of the most common risk factors for developing an opioid disorder. By having this information before prescribing medication podiatric physicians can determine what kind of pain management medication a patient can handle (if any) and whether or not alternate forms of treatment should be exercised first.
The second piece to urinalysis is that during treatment it’s a way to consistently and accurately check to make sure the patient is following the proper protocol. If a patient is complaining about increased or steady pain conducting a quick urinalysis during follow-up visits can show if they are taking the prescribed medication as directed. This ensures that additional or stronger dosages of opioids are not given to the patient without sound evidence that the current treatment plan isn’t working. For more information on how to use urinalysis as a part of your practice based on medical necessity
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