What is chronic pain?
Chronic pain is a progressive disease of
the nervous system, caused by failure of
the body’s internal pain control systems.
The disease is accompanied by changes
in the chemical and anatomical makeup
of the spinal cord. Chronic pain is a
malignancy, in the sense that when it
goes untreated, it increases in intensity
and spreads to areas that weren’t
previously affected, damaging the
sufferer’s health and functioning.
Why treat chronic pain with
Opioids are substances naturally
produced within the body to regulate
pain. They are commonly known as
endorphins, and recognized as producing
the state of euphoria known as the
runner’s high. Chronic pain victims, who
can’t produce enough opioids on their
own, often benefit from supplementation
with pharmaceutical opioids.
What are the goals of treatment?
Lowering of pain levels.
Reducing suffering through restoration
of functioning in life activities, as close
to normal as possible.
Arresting and reversing the damage done
by chronic pain to the nervous system
and overall health of the patient.
Are opioids dangerous?
When taken as prescribed by your
doctor, opioids are among the safest
What about those 'OxyContin
deaths' reported in the media?
OxyContin, like other opioids, is safe for
patients who take their medicine as
prescribed. “OxyContin deaths” occur in
habitual substance abusers, not patients,
and are usually the result of combining
the drug with overdoses of alcohol and
other drugs. These are deaths associated
with OxyContin, not caused by it, and
they are not occurring in patients.
Will I have to take opioids for
the rest of my life?
Opioids can be discontinued whenever
they are no longer needed. Patients may
recover from chronic pain, and return to
Will I get addicted, and how can
I tell if I am?
Addiction is defined by the American
Society of Addiction Medicine as
continued use in spite of harm.
Scientific research indicates that opioid
addiction in pain patients is rare. If
opioids make your life better by
controlling pain, you are a pain patient.
If they make your life worse, and you
continue to use them, you may be an
Will I have to take larger and
larger doses to control my pain?
For most patients, their dose remains
stable over long periods of time.