Please Stop The Pain For Chronic/Intractable Pain Sufferers

Many strategies and options exist to treat chronic noncancer pain. Since chronic pain is not a single entity but may have myriad causes and perpetuating factors, these strategies and options vary from behavioral methods and rehabilitation approaches to the use of a number of different medications, including opioids.



Pain is one of the most common reasons people consult a physician, yet it frequently is inadequately treated, leading to enormous social cost in the form of lost productivity, needless suffering, and excessive healthcare expenditures.

Impediments to the use of opioids include concerns about addiction, respiratory depression and other side effects, tolerance, diversion, and fear of regulatory action.

State law and policy about opioid use are currently undergoing revision. The trend is to adopt laws or guidelines that specifically recognize the use of opioids to treat intractable pain. These statements serve as indicators of increased public awareness of the sequelae of undertreated pain and help clarify that the use of opioids for the relief of chronic pain is a legitimate medical practice.


Due to concerns about regulatory scrutiny, physicians need guidance as to what principles should generally be followed when prescribing opioids for chronic or recurrent pain states. Regulators have also expressed a need for guidelines to help them to distinguish legitimate medical practice from questionable practice and to allow them to appropriately concentrate investigative, educational, and disciplinary efforts, while not interfering with legitimate medical care.

We the undersigned do hereby request that you read our plight and consider changing laws in order to help chronic/intractable pain sufferers to lead a better quality of life using opiate medications.


It has been estimated that 21.7% of adult Americans, or 34 million people, experience mild to moderate chronic pain to the degree that they seek relief from a physician.  Pain is the second most common reason people visit physicians.


The National Institutes of Health claims that 40 million Americans are unable to find relief from their pain, which is chronic.  Other sources say the right figure is 50 million. It may not be quite that high.


Chronic pain sufferers seek treatment because they are unable to perform daily activities, sleep, work, exercise, or concentrate.  Because of chronic pain, one-third of sufferers are not able to work or perform routine activities for one out of every three days of the year.  Of the people suffering from chronic pain, 60% are women.


Findings from a new national survey sponsored by the American Pain Foundation reveal that a majority of physicians believe only a small number of their patients misuse or abuse opioids with a legitimate prescription and underestimate the prevalence of tampering with the medication delivery system when opioid abuse occurs. The purpose of the survey was to gain a better understanding of prescriber awareness of opioid misuse and abuse, including prevalence, patient discussions, attitude and sources of misuse and abuse.


Many strategies and options exist to treat chronic noncancer pain. Since chronic pain is not a single entity but may have myriad causes and perpetuating factors, these strategies and options vary from behavioral methods and rehabilitation approaches to the use of a number of different medications, including opioids.


Pain is one of the most common reasons people consult a physician, yet it frequently is inadequately treated, leading to enormous social cost in the form of lost productivity, needless suffering, and excessive healthcare expenditures.


Impediments to the use of opioids include concerns about addiction, respiratory depression and other side effects, tolerance, diversion, and fear of regulatory action.


Addiction: Misunderstanding of addiction and mislabeling of patients as addicts result in unnecessary withholding of opioid medications. Addiction is a compulsive disorder in which an individual becomes preoccupied with obtaining and using a substance, the continued use of which results in a decreased quality of life. Studies indicate that the de novo development of addiction when opioids are used for the relief of pain is low. Furthermore, experience has shown that known addicts can benefit from the carefully supervised, judicious use of opioids for the treatment of pain due to cancer, surgery, or recurrent painful illnesses such as sickle cell disease.


Respiratory depression and other side effects: Fear of inducing respiratory depression is often cited as a factor that limits the use of opioids in pain management. It is now accepted by practitioners of the specialty of pain medicine that respiratory depression induced by opioids tends to be a short-lived phenomenon, generally occurs only in the opioid-naive patient, and is antagonized by pain. Therefore, withholding the appropriate use of opioids from a patient who is experiencing pain on the basis of respiratory concerns is unwarranted. Other side effects, such as constipation, can usually be managed by attention to diet, along with the regular use of stool softeners and laxatives. Sedation and nausea, possible early side effects, usually dissipate with continued use.


Tolerance: It was previously thought that the development of analgesic tolerance limited the ability to use opioids efficaciously on a long-term basis for pain management. Tolerance, or decreasing pain relief with the same dosage over time, has not proven to be a prevalent limitation to long-term opioid use. Experience with treating cancer pain has shown that what initially appears to be tolerance is usually progression of the disease. Furthermore, for most opioids, there does not appear to be an arbitrary upper dosage limit, as was previously thought.


Diversion: Diversion of controlled substances should be a concern of every health professional, but efforts to stop diversion should not interfere with prescribing opioids for pain management. Attention to patterns of prescription requests and the prescribing of opioids as part of an ongoing relationship between a patient and a healthcare provider can decrease the risk of diversion.


State law and policy about opioid use are currently undergoing revision. The trend is to adopt laws or guidelines that specifically recognize the use of opioids to treat intractable pain. These statements serve as indicators of increased public awareness of the sequelae of undertreated pain and help clarify that the use of opioids for the relief of chronic pain is a legitimate medical practice.


Due to concerns about regulatory scrutiny, physicians need guidance as to what principles should generally be followed when prescribing opioids for chronic or recurrent pain states. Regulators have also expressed a need for guidelines to help them to distinguish legitimate medical practice from questionable practice and to allow them to appropriately concentrate investigative, educational, and disciplinary efforts, while not interfering with legitimate medical care.


Thank you in advance for taking out the time to read our plight!





Sign Petition

privacy policy

By signing, you accept Care2's terms of service.

Having problems signing this? Let us know.