Pain Patients Say Non-Opioid Meds Do Not Help at All

Pain Patients Say Non-Opioid Meds ‘Do Not Help at All’ | Pat Anson | March 30, 2016

This has been my experience with all the non-opioid medications. The idea of  being offered an aspirin, Tylenol, or Lyrica after invasive surgery would be laughable if it weren’t being applied in the real world now.

It’s hard for me to believe to what extent opiophobes are willing to go to prevent the use of opioids for pain. Of course, I approve of weaning recreational users and addicts from their non-necessary opioids, but trying to substitute non-opioid medication in ALL cases goes against the main purpose of medical care, which is to relieve pain and suffering.

Most pain patients aren’t getting what they want or what they need in hospitals — pain relief —  according to an extensive survey of over 1,250 acute and chronic pain patients by Pain News Network and the International Pain Foundation (IPain).  

Over half rated the quality of their pain care in hospitals as poor or very poor, and six out of ten patients said their post-surgical pain was not adequately controlled.

And many hospitals are already very reluctant to give patients opioids.

Over half (53%) the patients in our survey say they were refused opioid pain medication while hospitalized.   

“If you end up in the emergency room you will NEVER be given opioid based pain meds. They use NSAIDs. That usually isn’t good enough,” said a patient who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and spinal stenosis.

“This obsession with preventing pain sufferers from receiving adequate care is cruel and unusual. Would you deny a diabetic access to medication to control their condition?”

I went to the ER for a broken arm, and they took x-rays and told me it was broken. I asked for pain meds, even asked for non-narcotic meds, and got NOTHING, not even an aspirin with a broken arm, nothing while they put a cast on it and nothing to fill when I left,” said another patient.

Patients overwhelmingly agreed in our survey that non-opioid medications and therapies were ineffective in relieving pain. Nearly two-thirds (65%) said they “did not help at all” and nearly one in four said they only “helped a little.”

Just 11% said non-opioid treatments were very effective or somewhat effective at relieving pain.

“If they intend to use ‘preferred treatments’ like NSAIDs and Lyrica/Neurontin, they should have a reason for using these more dangerous, less effective meds,” wrote one patient.

“They should know that Lyrica and Neurontin can take months to build in the patient’s system in order to be effective, and that NSAIDs can cause heart problems, gastric bleeding, and other side effects which can cause a host of new problems for the patient.”

“It’s important that patients understand that one major reason for this is that our available pain medications (principally acetaminophen, NSAIDs and opioids, but various other drugs as well), simply don’t work well for many types of pain.

But we’re not talking about “several types of pain”, we’re talking about the kind of pain that gets you into the hospital, and even post-surgical pain.

I see this firsthand every day, and it highlights the need for research into novel drug therapies that treat pain safely and effectively,” said Juurlink, who is also a board member of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP) and was a consultant to the CDC during development of its opioid prescribing guidelines.

“It’s especially important that people not conflate ‘poor pain care’ with ‘reluctance to use opioids,’ because opioids really are no better than our other options for treating pain — chronic pain in particular — and they can make pain worse in a very short period of time.”

If Dr. Juurlink ever suffers something painful like kidney stones or broken ribs, I doubt he’d want the treatment he’s suggesting.

Only people without pain are against the use of opioids and this has become a prejudice of sorts, like white people telling black people that they shouldn’t complain if they are denied services based on their race.

Just like people without pain are telling chronic pain patients that they shouldn’t complain if they are denied opioids and given ineffective alternates instead.

“This phenomenon (opioid-induced hyperalgesia) is something we’re just starting to understand, but it’s one of many reasons why patients can have pain that persists or even worsens despite therapy. It’s one more reason why doctors and patients need to de-emphasize the role of opioids in managing pain.”

Hyperalgesia is far from common and has not been conclusively found in humans, only rats.

Still another patient discovered a novel way to get opioids in the hospital: don’t ask for them.

I ended up learning to ask for non-opioid painkillers. That way when the painkillers they gave me didn’t work, they would actually suggest them,” he said.

To see the complete survey results, click here.  


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