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Is an opioid really the best medication for my pain?

June 19, 2019

About the Authors

photo of Salim Zerriny, MD

Salim Zerriny, MD, Contributor

Salim Zerriny, MD is a 3rd-year resident, currently training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Anesthesiology Program. He has a special interest in pain and healthcare innovation. See Full Bio
View all posts by Salim Zerriny, MD
photo of David Boyce, MD

David Boyce, MD, Contributor

Dr. David Boyce is board-certified in general anesthesiology and pain medicine. After graduating from Tufts University School of Medicine, he completed his residency and a pain medicine fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He … See Full Bio
View all posts by David Boyce, MD


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Peter V Recchia
June 20, 2019

The ignorance or and DENIAL of the painkilling and anti inflammatitory properties of THC is staggering ,If the Medical Community would see the light ,We would have no use many current Pharmacy Drugs ,But Profits speak louder than common sense to many physicians ,This is very sad .

David J. Littleboy
June 20, 2019

Hmm. I’m surprised at this article. You wrote: ” But there are times when an opioid is the right choice;”

My understanding of the current scientific knowledge is that other than cancer and a few other truly serious conditions, there really aren’t any times when an opioid is the right choice.

My understanding is that the current best science is that for chronic pain, patients are in better shape (less pain, less disability, fewer problems with side effects) a year later without opioids (with NSAIDs and other OTC painkillers.)

Is this correct?

Similarly, my understanding is that the current best science is that the number of addicts in a doctor’s patient population is directly proportional to the number of opioid pills prescribed.

Is this correct?

Given the above, my personal preference would be for a recommendation that opioids only be prescribed for acute pain if that pain is truly unbearable with other treatments, and for a strong statement recommending that opioids not be prescribed for chronic pain.

Have I misunderstood the current science?

Sorry about being grumpy, but your opening statement put me off. I’m a bit of an older bloke, and in my generation (Vietnam era) we learned the hard way that heroin was a bad idea. Returning Vietnam veterans and musicians in those days were the victims. There isn’t any mystery around opioids: 7% of people given opioids get addicted. We knew this from returning vets; most of whom were able to just stop using, but a horrifically large number couldn’t. How this knowledge get lost so quickly is an interesting sociology question. The results of that forgetting aren’t so interesting.

June 22, 2019

You are Not correct. Even the CDC said that .02% of all Legally prescribed opiod patients ever became addicted. Less than 2% ever abused the opiod meds Period. If that’s your Opinion for only yourself that’s fine, but Not for anyone else because you obviously do Not know their experience. What you wrote shows a lot of ignorance in this subject, probably just repeating the First information that was published. Both the FDA and CDC admitted that they Grossly skewed and outright Lied about all their original information published in late 2017 to! If you want to actually Know the Truth, do research with nonbiased places now and you will be able to see what I’m saying.

Lawrence Feldman
June 19, 2019

Have these doctors ever heard of CRPS? Nucynta, after years of alternative therapies, is the best I’ve found; with medical research out there if they bothered to look.

Lawrence Feldman
June 19, 2019

Doctors who obviously never heard of CRPS.

June 22, 2019

You do have Some information correct, but are lacking with others. Long term opioid treatments Have been Proven to work. As you should notice the “studies” that show different we’re not done correctly or are largely Bias. Opiods are from the Poppy plant so it’s not different than mine in that aspect. The Only time people are in danger of addiction is if they Already have addiction issues period! The FDA and CDC admitted that they Grossly skewed and outright Lied about all the original information they published on this in late 2017. According to the CDC only .02% of Legally prescribed opiod patients ever became addicted. Less than 2% ever abused the opiod meds Period including those that sell them. Opiod meds are actually safe if you do Not have addiction issues! Both short and long-term. All this crap our government and Media has done was Created Only for Profit Period!

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