When they started practicing medicine, most surgeons say, there was little or no information about just how many pain pills patients needed after specific procedures. As a result, patients often were sent home with the equivalent of handfuls of powerful and addictive medications. Then the opioid crisis hit, along with studies showing one possible side effect of surgery is long-term dependence on pain pills. These findings prompted some medical ...

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It took me decades of studying, training, hard work, and sleepless nights to become a doctor. In approximately five years, I became a successful writer, editor, columnist, and a whole array of other titles assigned to that type of work. In under 3 seconds, I became a chronic pain patient for the rest of my life. Around this time last year, I was taking my two dogs outdoors when they spotted ...

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Stigma towards health conditions interferes with access to compassionate care. Both social stigmas from friends and family and medical stigma from professionals are issues. Perhaps the worst recent example of medical stigma is how people with HIV/AIDS were treated in the 1980s. They were isolated physically and spiritually. While in medical school a professor related that on the HIV floor the food trays were left outside the door like ...

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Our community had one of “those” providers — a midlevel who was the local pain person. If you had pain, go to her. She would write you for anything you could want and more. It’s unclear if she was unscrupulous or just inept. But last year, the DEA finally figured out what she was doing and yanked her license. There was nothing in the news. Nothing on the internet. We ...

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What if I told you that your adolescent child could contract a disease that can never be cured, but only maintained? That it would be a lifelong struggle that could change their personality, compromise their potential and values, destroy their relationships and have a long-term detrimental effect on their overall and mental health? That this disease can even be fatal, when ineffectively maintained? What if I told you that the ...

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Recently, I was at a health care facility in a semi-urban region, less than 100 miles from a major metro. It had a whiff of industry from good times that have long drifted by. I tried to locate a Starbucks. Google Maps spotted one and took me towards the local university campus. As I drove there, I noticed several pain management clinics advertising themselves in unusual ways for "relief." Once inside the ...

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One night, a woman I’ll call Tonya got a compliment from a guy when she was out with her boyfriend. Tonya’s boyfriend cursed her because another man had complimented her. He said: “You give it to everybody, I want it too.” In anticipation of his physical abuse, she reasoned, “I could go off to Wonder World.” She then injected heroin, to be “in her own world,” she later told me. Tonya ...

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I've noticed a frightening trend in the latest research on patients taking prescribed opioids: whatever the negative outcomes, researchers attribute them to the opioid medications instead of the underlying pain. The many detrimental outcomes these studies find are exactly what you'd expect from a person suffering long-term chronic pain. They don't recognize or calculate into their studies that opioids were prescribed to ease intractable pain. It's like stating ...

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Last month I saw Joan, a woman who has had low back pain for years. She’d been through the ringer like every other person in severe pain: countless procedures and medications. She continued to have daily pain that stopped her from staying focused at work, playing with her kids or being the spouse or friend she wanted to be.  After our long consultation and review of her records my prescription ...

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Last week I took the naloxone challenge. I walked up to a pharmacy window, waited in line, and requested naloxone from the pharmacist. She showed a supportive but knowing look, and I became acutely aware of the four people in line behind me. After giving her my name and date of birth, she was able to pull my insurance info from prior visits, and I left with a dose of ...

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