Off opioids, pain better. Life is back!


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We have all seen pain go down when patients taper off opioids. Look down many paragraphs to see a case report near the end.

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I prescribe opioids for intractable pain, but I have never seen opioids take pain to zero on a sustained basis, year after year – I have seen glial modulators with the specific off-label combinations of medications do that. Chosen because of mechanism: neuro-inflammation that we know is present in chronic pain or chronic depression and recently reported in teens with early psychosis. Inflammation. Brain on fire – imaginary fire, skin is burning, shooting, pulsing, changing from ice to hot, unable to tolerate light touch, sunlight.

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You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to read the brilliant science that’s come out since 1991 that has changed neuroscience more profoundly than anything I’ve ever seen – many prizes given from many countries. Ignored by docs – don’t blame them. Not everyone is able to take the risk to be different in medicine. It is NOT rewarded. Doctors can just ignore patients now after 30 years of living with pain 10 on scale of 10, pain now zero. Like one of my patients best care for 8 years, told to live with pain that was 8 on scale of 10 constant, unvarying, burning.

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You never will see that with opioids, procedures, pumps, stims, blocks, biofeedback. Most of my patients with intractable pain from hell, been there, done that at the top places: Boston, Philly, Cleveland, Mayo, years of grueling P.T. Kids get the worst. No drugs for pain until after age 18 – pediatricians need to be studied what they do, and oncologists need to be studied again. I know a top hospital in the country where for decades not one oncologist ever called for a pain consults – decade after decade. I know too many stories from too many top places about how cancer pain is not treated as well as it could be because of opiophobia perhaps, but there are so many other things done for cancer pain – oncologists refuse.

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The oncologist at a famous hospital in Beverly Hills that will go unnamed, threatened the grandmother of my UCLA Pain Clinic colleague, an MD Pain Specialist, who had come with her grandmother. Oncologist threatened the 90 year old woman: “If you want pain medicine, find another oncologist.”

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Any hospital would sooner get rid of pain specialists – they don’t bring money to the hospital like cardiologists who get streams of patients from around the country. In Houston, Netherlands would load a jumbo jet full of patients who needed heart surgery, fly them Sunday to Baylor and fly them back home end of week after heart surgery. Every single week, a plane full. These are GODS!

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Your pain is a low priority on the scale of gods. Excuse my tone. It breaks my heart to see every pediatric nurse threaten to walk off the entire floor if the MD did not call a pain consult. And I read in nurses notes, line after line after line the same thing for 3 months: “Patient screaming in pain.”

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I diagnosed the problem that they overlooked – every spinal nerve root coming off every level of spine was lighted up like a tiny 1″ band of pearls each side. This 17 year old athletic muscular tall male had lost 45 lbs of muscle, unable to move, screaming, 2 nurses required to bravely try to roll him onto his side to change sheets and toilet in bed, him screaming, perhaps rigid – I was never there then. Ignored by one of the world’s foremost oncologist for three months. The humanity of it.

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I’ve seen worse.

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GODS. These men are GODS. As a junior faculty, you do not look them in the eye, ask a question, or even speak to them. He was one of the best in the world, perhaps the very best, #1 – God of Leukemia, not god of pain so intense the lightest touch of skin elicits severe pain.

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That’s called allodynia. Slight touch, just a breath of air, very very slight touch = SEVERE PAIN.

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Nerve pain when severe does that. It can be focal or widespread, every where, like his. He had the mentality of an 8 year old, but loved playing basketball. Leukemia brought him in, and you cannot see leukemia on scans or xrays. Are you going to tell a GOD that pain exists in people with leukemia? – malignant blood cells and pain. No, no, no.  No one of the leukemia service was ever allowed to call a pain consult at a world famous cancer hospital. You would be fired. Career over. Mom was trying to raise the money to treat this leukemia. $30,000 she did not have.

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So many case reports I could write. But it never changes. Patient calls after decades of intractable pain. I have had them taper off opioids slowly before I see them. I assess whether I want to take them as patients. They’ve been to Europe and across the US, the best places, nothing has helped. Even ketamine coma in Germany, it did not last but boy it caused PTSD. You cannot give those doses of a psychoactive drug to brain. Ketamine is a short acting drug. No matter how you give it. The dose is different for everyone. They burned through her threshold and PTSD could not even be discussed, it was so bad.

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I never use ketamine alone – only with certain combinations, and later, my patients may not need ketamine again. Pain free. Not everyone becomes pain free, but it occurs so regularly that it’s almost hard to fall off my chair so many times with the results. It used to be a surprise many years ago and I would always fall off my chair. It has become regular. No surprises. This is getting old and sad no one knows how to do it. Pradigm shifts do not just occur, and not without publications, studies, one slow drug after another. That’s not the way you are ever going to get results – study only one single drug for 10/10 pain present for years to decades. When disabled 30 years, the standard for research is to study one drug. That’s fine for mild conditions.

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It’s incomprehensible to think one drug alone is going to budge intractable intractable pain or depression. And difficult for me to understand patients who think one drug alone will do everything though they have failed so many classes of medications for years or for decades. One drug is not adequate to restore balance in the complex system of transmitters, receptors and DNA changes.

Wrong thin

Mechanical pain complicates things and must not be overlooked even though it may be “minor” compared to the bear in other parts of the body. Wrong thinking. All pain ends up upstairs in the big lake at top (brain). Not minor. Never has anyone found a pill that can do better than mechanics of the spine or limbs.

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My new patients have already been through every known form of interdisciplinary treatment at the worlds best pain clinics. You all know that entails a number of specialists as a team – you do the work, mind and body. Done by most of my patients before they see me. Past History.

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Once off opioids:

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My focus is on neuroimmunopharmacology. Read January 2011, the innate immune system. There must be a balance between anti-inflammatory cytokines and pro-inflammatory cytokines. The pro-inflammatory cytokines are too high, out of balance. Let’s modulate them, restore balance.

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Lovely to see people better. It makes me want to go to work. I suspect CRPS may respond best to these medications  but I have seen many other syndromes respond well – but remember, no treatment is 100%. I see impossible cases. It would be a miracle if anyone saw 100% remission or cure in their medical practice. But the combinations of medication I am using are certainly life saving for many of the toughest.

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Mechanics – so many patients have groaned when I said I felt they had to see the physical therapist I refer to. Groans. 30 years of P.T. never helped, they say. After seeing Bruce, they come back smiling. Bruce says these are basic things he does. Well, didn’t help my patients. Not one of the best university centers in the country where my patients have been for 3 to 6 months, never helped one bit. Bruce says it’s basic. Bruce is unique, certified orthopedic physical therapist – most never get that high degree. Decades after training at the famous rehab center Rancho Los Amigos from whence books were published, basics of orthopedics and rehab. After seeing Bruce, patients come back smiling, awed. I am shocked there is still so much crap P.T. out there. I thought all this changed after the new manual P.T. was brought to the US before 1980. Yikes.

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Opioids. How many use them for anxiety instead of pain, misreading and confusing what you are treating yourself with. They work great for anxiety, but America – you must learn better ways to cope and opioids are not to be used for anxiety. I hear the groans and downright refusals. A few years later, one of my older guys has nowhere to go, nothing helps but the opioids and his body will not tolerate more. Not one coping skill was going to get near him years ago. If his wife couldn’t do everything for him, then his caregiver would. He wasn’t going to have it. Granddad is a very proud businessman who cuts himself off from family, they should not see he has a walker.

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Opioids ain’t the answer. But sometimes we have no better – in limits. Only after other things, glial modulators should be tried first. How many of you have seen results with gabapentin? Maybe I just only see the ones who’ve failed everything.

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I frequently see people who are better off opioids than on, but then, then what do MD’s do about that pain that may be still 6 out of 10 or worse? They don’t have an answer. And are not curious to figure out what to do with the new science. They have been trained the old way. Nothing new but hope for a new drug from pharma some day.

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I am writing so far off track. I hope you understand a little of this rapidly changing antediluvian field and that some places are still in the Middle Ages where we don’t treat pain at all. How do they get away with that? It’s not a priority anywhere. NIH gave one half of 1% to pain research in 2008. Really? !?!!

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CASE REPORT

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Many paragraphs ago, I was planning to write to tell you about a case, 2nd visit so much better! and a lot of that is simply due to being off opioids 6 weeks after 6 years on them. Falling asleep from opioids for how many years—  imagine an MD taking on a patient who said they need a new pain doctor because their old doctor cut them back and will not give them a dose that helps. Makes you wonder if they were falling asleep and getting any oxygen to the brain. I find myself in that position when people call for new appointment. I hate to be the one to tell you I am not going to increase your opioid but many other pain doctors will. Soon this nice person sitting by my desk would have been one of those opioid deaths the headlines tell us about. This person today sitting next to me, happy she is off, and better!

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She is not drugged, pain is down and it changed character/quality, still rated 6 on a 10 scale, but she is doing more, actually waking up alive instead of zombie until 5 pm, walking. Walking – that’s the biggest.

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She has CRPS for 6 years as well as pain of the entire spinal axis. Failed gabapentin, Lyrica, Spinal cord stimulator – implanted 2013.

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At the first visit Jan 25, one month ago, she had tapered opioids in 3 weeks [far too fast], and was off for 6 days, lost 15 lbs – opioid  fluid retention. I ask people to be off 2 weeks before seeing me but she was in crisis. Most of the time she was lying down elevating BLE’s [both lower extremities] as it reduces pain in feet and RLE. She used to play two soccer games back to back without a sweat 6 years ago.

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“And I feel better. I always felt like my insides were swollen,” brain fog – unable to read, blurred vision – improving, “and the character of the pain seems different. The nerve pain used to feel like I had a huge halo and if you just touched the halo, not the skin, it was unbearable. I feel like the halo sensation was severely diminished. My sister also said I am walking better than I ever had – I was just weaning off then.“

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Before seeing me, she had been on MSContin 30 mg x 3/day with MSIR 15 twice daily or on methadone 80 mg in past. Pain then was rated 6. Today, 2nd visit, off opioids for 6 weeks, pain 6/10. But walking.

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2nd visit, 4 weeks later

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Her prior “biofeedback therapist told me I should write a book.” Helped in some ways, just to teach me better body mechanics to minimize pain. Did both temp and pulse and wore EKG-type patches on her back for muscle feedback.

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Now using desensitization – on dorsum hands able to use loufa, and can use a special rough soap on palms she could not tolerate before. Dorsum left hand is nearly normal.

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Pain on opioids was “6 to 7 but different character, I’m much improved now,” ranging 4 to 7, average 5. “I could live with this.” It’s lower. I used to always say I want to cut off my leg, and I haven’t said that in at least a month.

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Foot felt so swollen like it was gonna pop, and be so cold, made it very difficult with pins and needles to put a sock or shoes on. The occurrence is much less and when it happens it feels less severe.

Still has mild swelling “more what I perceive than what I see.” Her friends say she is not a zombie anymore. She wakes up and is out of bed.

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“If I concentrate very hard, I think I can walk without a limp, but I think I need some retraining.”

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We have barely begun much treatment. She is on her way back to life. 

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I have seen patients become even better simply off opioids.

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You must treat the whole person: the mind, body and spirit.

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Physical Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Biofeedback, Medication, Procedures.

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Compounded medications are the key. Thank the insurance industry for not supporting anything but opioids. I can’t even prescribe Namenda off-label for a patient with dementia because her dementia is not Alzheimers or Vascular, mild or moderate only. She has traumatic brain injury with CRPS and I prescribe Namenda (memantine) in double dose – good science behind that, published around 2001 when I starting prescribing for pain. Now I see the best migraine docs doing it in the last year. I don’t know when they began using it.

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Namenda (memantine) not covered. Unless … two things are possible.

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But compounded medications are essential for these combinations of medication. What is this country doing to its injured veterans? Opioids do not work. But their mechanical spine joints needs are serious and I know it is not being addressed because manual physical therapists are hard for me to find in this age, only 40 years since it was brought to the US from British Commonwealth and Scandinavian countries. Impossible to find, to trust you have a good one, and far beyond that, Bruce is awesome. How difficult is it to train better physical therapists? Or upgrade teaching from the theoretical that all these shiny new PhD’s in physical therapy. But get me the clinical experience, Orthopedic Physical Therapist because Bruce is awesome. No other word for what he has done to unwind the cause of CRPS in the ribs after thoracic surgery. Drugs can only get you so far. The mechanics become everything and they can take your body to more pain than you will ever dream of unless mechanics are properly addressed. My local patients may live 2 hours away from Bruce. That is not feaseable.

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Obesity.

Then, the elephant in the room. Guardian just now reports Penguins on a Treadmill, Study shows fat ones fall over more often than slim ones. How can we help those of us who will not be helped? Sanity does not prevail in politics and thou shalt not forbid 80 teaspoons of sugar in each can of “energy” drinks. America waddling onward into disablity. Sanity in politics. Behavior. As a great sage said: “You cannot uncurl the curly tail of a pig.” 

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Behavior is the hardest for me to change myself. I know. I don’t care how old you are, let’s wake up! and get you back to life. Off opioids. So many of us give up too little food on our plate or treats. You do not have to exercise to do that.

 

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The problem remains:

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You have to be rich enough to get decent care for intractable pain in this country. Rich enough to afford the compounded medications that used to be covered by insurance – do these guys cover anything anymore? The business reeks like the rest of the 1%. Same people. The big three: energy, pharma, insurance. Waves of anger across the country. The Middle Class is disappearing and they cannot afford an extra $300 a month for medication without family struggle. Stagnation.

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Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are riding on that anger, and Democrats are shifting to Trump who, as Jeb Lund writes, with his “gallimaufry of disconnected thoughts” has the money to put his bombast into action. He destroyed his running mates. Lund goes on:

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“a billionaire beholden to no one and able to abuse every disingenuous and pettifogging remora latched headfirst on the nation and sucking upward.”

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“If the system is already so broken that it abandoned you, its preservation is not your concern. Hell, burning it down might be what you want most.”

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“Anger has a clarity all its own. It renders most detail extraneous….It is not to be underestimated….”

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His “disgusting behavior gets paired with the sight of Trump humiliating establishment empty suits like ….X….stuffed shirts like…Y…. party pets like…Z….. and habitual liars like…W…..” Trump is “lying in service of exposing another government predator.” 

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He will destroy Clinton. The politician who panders to money will be blown away by Trump. People respect that.  No one cares what his policies are.

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This site is not for email.

If any questions, please schedule an appointment with my office.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please be aware any advertising on this free educational website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me..

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PBS tonight? Governor of Massachusetts (Charlie Baker) being interviewed on law 3 day limit on pain meds


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I was just informed:

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PBS News hour tonight has a segment on pain with the governor of Massachusetts (Charlie Baker) being interviewed on Mass law of 3 day limit on pain meds.

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I wonder how much that will cost. Could it be true?

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I don’t get cable.

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President Obama “declined to endorse” proposal to limit opioid pain medication


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OBAMA: LIMITING OPIATE PRESCRIPTIONS WON’T SOLVE CRISIS

 AP (2/22, Nuckols) my emphasis in red:

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“Obama was cool to the idea at a meeting with the governors he hosted at the White House on Monday, noting that [pain medications] are sometimes the only realistic treatment option for people in rural communities.”

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Obama said any attempt to limit the number of pills that can be prescribed has to be part of a comprehensive approach. But he also expressed sympathy with rural Americans who cannot afford surgery or other costly, time-consuming treatment for painful injuries or illness.

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Dr. Steven Stack, president of the American Medical Association, said Obama was right to question the potential consequences of restraints on doctors.

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“The complexity of the problem makes it difficult to create a successful one-size-fits-all approach,” Stack said in a statement on Monday.

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Governors Devise Bipartisan Effort to Reduce Opioid Abuse,

New York Times (2/21)

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Mr. Dreyfus, the president of Blue Cross Blue Shield “said, the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan has reduced claims for short-acting opioid painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet by 25 percent and reduced claims for long-acting opioids like OxyContin by 50 percent, by switching patients to short-acting pain treatments.”

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BINGO! There you have it. Proof in numbers.

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And taking away the 20 mg of daily morphine from my 93 year old patient can have the consequence of preventing her from walking when she already has limited ability to walk with arthritic knees or playing cards 5 times per week despite end stage frozen shoulders.

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“Dr. Patrice A. Harris, the chairwoman-elect of the American Medical Association, said doctors welcomed the opportunity to work with governors on solutions to end this public health problem. But she added, “The A.M.A. wants to make sure that prescribing decisions — the decision to prescribe or not to prescribe — stay in the hands of physicians.”

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“A monograph prepared by the National Governors Association acknowledges the difficulties that its members face.”

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“Reducing the opioid pill supply, for example, can have the unintended consequence of increasing heroin use,” it said. “Laws aimed at unscrupulous providers can make ethical providers less willing to prescribe out of fear of scrutiny from law enforcement.” And “one state’s successful efforts to reduce illicit sources of prescription drugs can shift illegal activities to neighboring states.”

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Policy Analysis, Ronald Libby 2005:

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Pain patients are

far more likely

to suffer from the

scarcity caused

by the DEA’s

crackdown than

are the common

drug abusers the

agency claims it is

targeting.

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The new mission offered in practicing physicians a pool of registered, licensed, cooperative targets who kept records, paid taxes, and filled out a variety of forms.

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…the task force arrests five doctors a year in the Cincinnati area alone.

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Besides assess forfeiture at the start of investigation of a doctor, even if criminal charges are never filed, a police department can still bring a civil action against a suspected doctor to recover the cost of an investigation.

 

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This site is not for email.

If any questions, please schedule an appointment with my office.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please be aware any advertising on this free educational website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me.

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Opioid crackdown: Doctors like Prairie Dogs. 77,000 prosecuted after 1916 opioid crackdown


 

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PAIN AFFECTS

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MORE PEOPLE THAN

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DIABETES, CANCER & HEART DISEASE

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COMBINED

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 opioid “guidance” = opioid crackdown

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Like the Oxycontin crackdown of 2002 when doctors where thrown in jail.

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“Doctors are like prairie dogs.”

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124,000 physicians

registered in opioid crackdown of 1916 – NOT suicides. Forgive me!

During the first fourteen years after the Harrison Act passed,

U.S. attorneys prosecuted more than 77,000 people, most of them medical professionals.

 

 

 

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Another round of opioid hysteria. This sharp CDC cutback to patient opioids, called OPIOID “GUIDELINES” in California – let’s call a spade a spade, this threat is deadly, its sickening and it’s crushing my heart. $1.1 billion for opioid abuse – how much will go to DEA to investigate and prosecute doctors? Time does not permit review of the Cato Executive Summary in 2005:

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Treating Doctors as Drug Dealers

The DEA’s War on Prescription Painkillers

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that details many prosecutions of well meaning doctors across the country from every wave of threats. Suffice some quotes:

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 “A 2001 study of doctors found that 40% said their fear of an investigation affected how they treated chronic pain.”

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“One 1991 study in Wisconsin, for example, found that over half the doctors surveyed knowingly undertreated pain in their patients out of fear of retaliation from regulators.”

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“A final problem with the DEA’s claims of an OxyContin epidemic is the agency’s inflated estimate of risk of death. In 2000 physicians wrote 7.1 million prescriptions for oxycodone products without aspirin or Tylenol, 5.8 million of them for OxyContin.

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According to the DEA’s own autopsy data, there were 146 “OxyContin-verified deaths” that year, and 318 “OxyContin-likely deaths,” for a total of 464 “OxyContin-related deaths.”

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That amounts to a risk of just 0.00008 percent, or eight deaths per 100,000 OxyContin prescriptions—2.5 “verified,” and 5.5 “likely-related.” Even those figures are calculated only after taking the DEA’s troubling conclusions about causation at face value.

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By contrast, approximately 16,500 people die each year from gastrointestinal bleeding associated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin or ibuprofen.

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NSAIDS aren’t as effective as opioids at treating severe, chronic pain. Both classes of painkillers have beneficial medical uses. One is also found on the black market and may lead to occasional deaths by overdose. The other isn’t used recreationally, but causes 35 times more deaths per year.”

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The DEA’s Diversion Control Program is also a self-financing, autonomous law enforcement agency that is largely unaccountable to congressional oversight.

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American Pain Association guidelines warn against prescribing NSAIDS for those above age 60. Risk of cardiac arrhythmias, GI bleed, heart attack, death are too high, not to mention kidney failure.

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I feel the burn. No happiness engineers to edit. Delete this page tomorrow. The good news, mentioning being hacked – front page of website, missing for 15+ hours, now reappeared.

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They have the balls to call it “guideline” and the balls to threaten doctors, but not the balls to call it law. Tell me how it differs from law? History knows a government threat when it hears one.

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Remember a report written 2002 about the nationwide Oxycontin crackdowns occurring then? Damien Cave, writing in Salon, went on to write for Rolling Stone and New York Times international and national desk. 

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“Doctors were the earliest targets of prescription drug panic: As early as 1914, with the passage of the Harrison Narcotic Act, the government identified doctors as agents of addiction who needed to be controlled if narcotic abuse was to be abolished. The law, refined by a Supreme Court decision in 1919, made it illegal for doctors to prescribe opioids to addicted patients and required doctors who prescribed the drugs to register with the IRS.”

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Doctors then as now avoid patients with pain. Too hot to be near the fire.

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You doctors. You agents of addiction.

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“But doctors have blanched at the sweeping changes and proposed bans, and their panic has only increased in the wake of cases like that of Dudley Hall, a Bridgeport, Conn., doctor charged July 17, 2001, with 36 counts of over-prescribing. Sure, they argue, Dr. Hall, who prescribed more OxyContin that any other doctor in his state, (earning the title Dr. Feelgood), deserves to be prosecuted. But Hall was busted by officers posing as patients, and doctors fear that undercover operations will become the norm. The new laws, say doctors, even if they didn’t lead directly to Hall’s arrest, make police especially brash, far too confident in their ability to decide which prescriptions are valid or invalid. “

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“Just the specter of law enforcement meddling in medicine has been enough to cause physicians to drop needy patients, says Michael Brennan, a pain management doctor who manages a private pain clinic in Fairfield, Conn., a wealthy town only a few miles from where Hall was charged.”

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“Doctors are like prairie dogs,” he says. “One or two will stick their heads up, but as soon as something bad happens to them, they all go underground.”

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….”But Brennan argues that the increased presence of law enforcement is hard to dismiss. In fact, he says that he’s still reeling from an unexpected visit by the DEA around Thanksgiving. Though he’s strict about whom he’ll write prescriptions for — he regularly meets with family members to ensure that abuse isn’t occurring — he says that “every time I see a big blue Suburban come by my office, I’m like ‘Oh man, I hope they’re not coming for me.’”

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Economic stagnation is nothing compared to government threat, surveillance, and disappearing colleagues. 

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Now let’s air some of the negative —but stay strong as you read. Caution! Stop reading now if you feel vulnerable. To those who read on: Do not let yourself be swallowed by hopelessness and depression. The mind is more powerful than we can imagine. We must be taught to use its skills, every tool that has been brought to us. There have been decades of mind-body work treating pain without pills. Without pills. Wake up America. It’s real. Centuries of ancient techniques. You and I can learn to use our minds and find other tools. Think positive. Do it. Doctors too – do it. It’s real.

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We all admit the bad headlines, the 18,000 plus deaths from opioids in 2014 – addicts or suicides? the stories of everyday opioid abuse by millions of Americans with pain, whose abuses as painted by zealous anti-opioidists are disturbing headlines. Government officials easily find good reason to cut opioid doses. But it’s still a radical nationwide experiment on lives of people with chronic pain who may be too disabled to fight back.

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Reality: Surveillance. Kills trust.

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I feel awful all day after I had to try to cut opioid dose on a man whose back pain, neuropathic pain shooting into his legs, his bad knees, bad shoulders hurt bad. They hurt real bad. Bad for maybe 25 years. I must cut his doses radically. DOCTORS WHO TREAT PAIN ARE THREATENED UNLESS THEY CAUSE PAIN AND SUFFERING. I have never felt such pain in my life. It feels slick and unethical – it must be unethical to cause suffering. I have posted a bit on ethics of informed consent, tampering with patient autonomy, profound issues published by Michael Schatman, PhD. Patients have no choice. There is no informed consent. Can you imagine what it feels like to taper opioids?

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It is against my ethics to inflict harm on patients. How am I expected to challenge a person who uses opioids as anxiolytics? Can they get through life without them? What if they don’t want to be challenged on the delusion that opioids help? They refuse to work with a therapist. This has been their pattern for 25 years, long before they first saw me. I don’t think I see anyone like this, but what if I did? Can I inflict pain on them? Are all my patients perfect – they never reaching for an opioid when using better coping skills at moments of stress and high pain?

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What kind of chauvinism is this medical care I am being threatened to do? I am told to blindly turn away from the pain I am causing. March in step with politicians who cannot ignore voters agitating against the heroin crisis of suburbia and the middle class. Politicians and doctors who publish guidelines don’t have to face my patients, don’t feel their pain. Addiction is on front pages. Deaths from opioids in headlines. Trillions on the war on drugs merely fuels the fire. 

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Opioid cutbacks feel like marching orders – and it cracks my mind to attention. I know the power this government has and we all hear about too many local pain doctors who have lost everything. Investigations. Disappearances. You don’t always know. Lurking agents. Constant threat surveillance will pull you in.

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This lump in my throat and awful heaviness in the heart remains. I had to cut back a good man’s opioid dose today. I have tried to give him the options to cut back on his own; month after month he has not. The pain is killing him. He is not an addict. Far from it. I suffer looking at him as he tries to sit in a chair. But opioids cause his central sleep apnea. That complicates, perhaps caused, a rare form of congestive heart disease that stumped a number of top doctors. He’s gotta get off the opioids, they are literally killing him. So is the pain. Pain is killing him. He picked comfort care, some relief, any relief, and I probably would too, were I in half the pain he is in all the time for decades. What will be the strain on his heart to go through opioid cutback that uncovers nothing but higher levels of pain? and for what, to have life shortened because of more pain and fewer opioids or ….or….have life shortened with more access to opioids? Life is short and then we die. Which is the better death? He is not hospice eligible. Chronic pain is not a terminal disease. Can you guess if his level of pain will go down or up after cutting his dose? Pain has so compromised his life, disabled for years, now his government is cutting doses nationwide. He fought in our wars, and later worked as a federal executive, but disabled since the 90’s, since he was in his 40’s. His body feels 20 years older than it is. he has more kinds of pain than you have fingers on one hand, and sees a doctor every day of the week for his other medical problems. Integrative pain management failed to help pain 12 years ago. Any exertion makes him short of breath – heart failure. Even physical therapy is too much.

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It’s killing me to know I have to do this again and again to keep cutting his dose, month after month, and to do this to other good people. I know what will happen if I don’t. Other doctors hounded by investigations, audits, depositions, chart reviews, by government agencies, hearings, years in limbo, then to face court costing $300,000 or more. Attorney’s and specialists fees all scrutinize your patient and your work. Liability insurance may cover only $25,000 for the MD. But insurance may not cover DEA issues, doc. Insurance liability is for patient care, not for government regs.

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Heartless. How can any doctor keep the heart dissociated from the knowledge that you must do this, or else? I heard the fear from colleagues at this 16 hour conference this weekend on opioid guidelines. There are family doctors, psychiatrists, rehabilitation specialists, anesthesiologists, dentists – yes they treat chronic pain, pain specialists having to face patients in their care whom they have known for years. Just how are they to purposefully and personally harm each one? No one talked about how. 

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When has there been good mental health care in this country? Will the government offer counseling to patients and their doctors for this tsunami of pain and suffering? What if insurance does not cover costs of therapy? Insurers are never straddled with obligations – that’s not a business model. Profit, baby. Medical ethics are not a business model. 

 

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I’ve recently been called by patients looking for a new pain doctor. Somebody shut down or bought out a previous pain doctor in town – a very good specialist. Now his old patients are desperate to find a pain specialist to continue their opioids because the new owners will not write those prior doses. New pain specialists have cut back the opioid doses and it’s too much. Patients cannot cope and cannot turn to those doctors for mercy. Patients are afraid. I turned them away because I do not write those doses and I don’t know them. How can I tell if they had episodes of abusing their opioid, often showing up with none left? Is that why they were cut back? Was it as arbitrary as they convey? When you hear it from several patients, you suspect it was arbitrary and across the board, but you don’t know. Are they drug seeking? Addicts? DEA agents undercover flushing out pill doctors?

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If patients have not suffered mood disorders yet, they will when drugs are cut and mind is rebelling. Patients do not understand why it is essential they work on emotional coping skills with a professional. Men! seniors! Women! I am talking about you. Serious work. We all need help when we choose a pill over mind power. Pills dull the mind, can choke off oxygen at night, and cause more inflammation and more pain. Americans are too soft. I’m right in there with the rest of you. I need to train the mind to take control – it’s hard even when I don’t have pain. At least you/we/all must remove fear – if you have fear, it triggers more pain.

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The mind is more powerful than we can imagine. We must be taught to use its skills.

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Whether you see a therapist or not, talk to yourself about how to get creative with mind power. Do not let your mind get sucked into pain when you have the power to reduce pain – now. Stanford showed this with fMRI a few years ago. On screen, you can watch your own brain eat glucose in areas of brain. They light up in some regions when you tell your mind to raise your pain to 10 on scale of 10. And light up differently when you tell your mind to reduce pain to zero. This is true direct biofeedback. So use indirect temperature control, or pulse control, train your mind. OK, be a wimp for awhile, but then brace yourself and do the work anyhow. Train the mind.

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However cutting doses of pain medicine.

Heartless brutes!

I feel like a heartless brute.

HOW CAN YOU KEEP YOUR HEART FROM SUFFERING THE KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU MUST DO THIS OR ELSE!

DO YOU TRUST THIS GOVERNMENT TO HELP? 

The attitude of American voters, especially Congress, toward patients in pain is one of denial. Just like the denial of affordable changes in the American healthcare system rather than the splurges and splashes of increasingly costly, unaffordable hospital tech within reach to anybody with certain insurance. Everything at any cost. Not for pain relief. Not for everyone.

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We’ve gone through years of radical push to raise opioid doses, believing opioids could help. We did not know the harm of pain medicines. Nor do we still. But whose lobbyists have prevented NIH from funding pain research? Or is it the American way – we care so little even to help our injured veterans. Has anything been invested in the treatment of their chronic pain that adds so much to physical and emotional disability?

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There has been no change in approach to treating pain since 1991 when, nationwide, the interdisciplinary pain centers were shut down – why would any university be stradled with such a money pit? I was at UCLA on the Anesthesiology Interdisciplinary Pain Service when it happened. UCLA fired the President of the American Pain Society, and the soon-to-be President of the American Pain Society, pioneers and outstanding practitioners in this new field that had been born at UCLA somewhere in early 1980’s and actually mid 1970’s. All across the country, by 1991, closed pain clinics swept like a wave and I heard about it only whispered in the halls in Vancouver at the International Association for the Study of Pain, the IASP. Not a word in public to the audience or young doctors in training or anyone. Shhhhhhh. Why the hush hush? Fear of the unknown new era?

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Contracts, teaching appointments were torn up over night. Thousands of pain centers closed forever. No one cares.

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PAIN AFFECTS

MORE PEOPLE THAN

DIABETES, CANCER & HEART DISEASE COMBINED

 

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Pain is denied in the United States. Buck up. Machismo is the attitude. You lie to your fellow church members and office workers, and tell them you are “fine.” You know they don’t give a hoot about how you really are. You don’t  like to use the word suffer to yourself, there’s so much pain that you cannot stay in bed for hours in the middle of the night. We all see patients lie when they deny they are thinking of suicide because that pain has been untreatable. You can’t cut the thickness of the air with a knife. You feel it deep in your soul. What is there for help that has not already been explored? These are the toughest of the tough, everything tried, but the mechanics of damaged joints when the pieces and parts start crashing, the body feels decades older than you are.

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PAIN AFFECTS MORE PEOPLE THAN

DIABETES, CANCER & HEART DISEASE COMBINED

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This radical experiment to radically cut opioid doses, heartlessly.

Sigh.

No data to show the crisis you will see on every level.

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CDC opioid cuts will cause damage that should make headlines.

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Social scientists, time now to submit your RO1 NIH grants  to begin studying the crises when they unleash the opioid guidelines from CDC and in every state, then they will tighten the noose. Study what will happen.

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Patients will be forced to quit jobs they were barely holding onto despite all the pain. The wave of losses of lives, homes, jobs, health, emotions, friends, spouses. Barely able to push depression away. It is hard to make the brain focus on anything. Work, disability, early retirements, depression, bankruptcy. That is what can happen.

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Ideally, the study should be offered to the most distinguished, as an NIH Special Scholars Grant to study this radical cut in opioids.

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WE NEED A STUDY TO SHOW HARM & BENEFIT.

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BEFORE

NUMBER – at least 5,000  to get meaningful data?

Ask statisticians for an n – to power significant data end points.

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It has to be a huge detailed meaningful study. Pain and war on drugs is costing our healthcare system and costing lives.

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AFTER OPIOID CUTS

Repeat study every year for 3 to 5 years.

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Or just do what California has done: cut dose to 80 mg morphine equivalent. Or what CDC plans nationwide. Ignore the downfall.

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I am just too sad and repulsed to think of doing this to a human soul, again and again. Today has scorched my heart and soul. We took a step down. It’s too painful to think about. Too disgusted for tears.

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too dreary to read

will probably delete this tomorrow

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This site is not for email.

If any questions, please schedule an appointment with my office.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please be aware any advertising on this free educational website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me.

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Opioid Guidelines California


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Opioid Guidelines for Chronic Pain

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80 mg Morphine Equivalent in California

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Maximum

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That’s about 50 mg Oxycodone

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Change is inevitable. It is about deaths from opioids, addiction and misuse, not about pain control. It is a done deal. Acceptance is required. CDC will set 90 mg morphine equivalence maximum nationwide soon. There is no legal alternative. A wake up call.

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Let’s now make the best of every best tool we have. This is going to be a very tough year. We can get through this together.

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With 18,000 plus deaths from opioid misuse, that is equivalent to a jumbojet crashing every 10 days and killing every passenger.

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I have advised my patients of the maximum 80 mg morphine equivalent that is required in California. The CDC will soon limit maximum dose to 90 mg morphine equivalent nationwide. This is a done deal. We must all accept it, and adjust ourselves to all the benefits of a rational approach to pain management that may have been overlooked many years since your started treatment for chronic pain and came to rely on the easy things like pills rather than changing our behavior – painful as it is for me and all of us.

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Housecleaning: Reassess opioid consent, opioid rules, cognitive behavioral therapy to teach coping skills, physical therapy for the mechanics, and other treatment as required. It does not count if you went through these steps 10 years ago or 5 years ago. This is now. Reassess thoroughly,  to see if we can correct or improve whatever we can.

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The good news is that everything will be reassessed and updated in order to maximize everything that can be done to help your pain. You may feel the brain feels clear on lower doses and you may even have less pain as long as you, together with your doctor, can work out a plan for your best needs.

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And no matter if you are thin, fat or just the right weight, the foods you eat will determine your body’s inflammatory response.

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This will be nationwide in weeks. There is no alternative. We can do this together.

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Don’t forget injured veterans are being completely taken off opioids to get them active and back to exercise. And research from 25 years ago showed 90 year old seniors can strengthen muscles with exercise. If the rest of the world gets by without opioids, so can we.

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Finally, it is very possible to get better pain control using compounded medications once you taper completely off opioids.

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Case:

One of my patients with neuropathy had complete loss of sensation and intense neuropathic pain below wrists and ankles despite high dose methadone – methadone helped better than all other opioids. There was no dose that brought his pain down to moderate. Since pain was severe on any dose of any opioid, I am not sure why they are prescribed at all – brain fog from severe pain, poor sleep, opioids. We may delude ourselves that we are helping.

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He had complete remission using oxytocin, a hormone the body makes. Oxytocin was affordable as long as his insurance paid for it. This allowed him to discontinue all opioid and he came alive again, depression and brain fog completely resolved when pain resolved 100%. He was able to rejoin life for the first time since 1991. Tragically his medicare disability does not cover compounded medications – no insurer does. He was not able to afford the oxytocin (hormone) and had to resume methadone though it gives poor pain control – it is better than other opioids for his pain.

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Not everyone responds to alternatives but they can be tried. I have spent the last 15 years applying new science to the understanding of mechanisms of old drugs, FDA approved decades ago for other purposes. We need to repurpose old safe drugs – invest in research to determine if they modulate pro-inflammatory cytokines. Drug discovery decades ago revealed basic mechanisms that still exist. Now, let’s find out if many safe existing medications work on the new science of the brain: the innate immune system.

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Opioids create pain. They create opioid induced hyperalgesia.

They stimulate pro-inflammatory cytokines in brain and spinal cord (CNS) that create pain.

My focus is on research and medications that modulate the cytokines and restore balance.

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Investment in research has not accompanied the radical cut in opioids. Work for change. Do not allow this to color your mood. Be strong. Get help. We can do this.

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Correction 2-23-16: California Guidelines (pdf) are not law. They are dead serious threats.

page 14: going over 80 mg morphine equivalent is yellow flag warning

 And here

page 3:

Clinicians should conduct semiannual attempts to wean patients whose dose has been 80 mg/day MED or higher for at least six months to lower than 80 mg/day MED.

 

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

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If any questions, please schedule an appointment with my office.

This site is not for email.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please be aware any advertising on this free educational website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me.

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Magnesium Deficient? – Add 3 or 4 Daily for Pain or Depression


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Here’s a keen publication from 1988:

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Magnesium and immune function:

an overview.

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*****Add Magnesium 3 or 4 per day for months.*****

*****Let me know if it helped your pain or depression.*****

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It’s got to be anti-inflammatory – possibly in CNS, and may influence pain, depression, other conditions. Since it is inside the cell, we cannot measure true deficiency. It may be subtle. Only in retrospect 5 months later, during some of the most intense work stress months of one patient’s life, did she realize not one single infection over fall/winter months when there would always be 3 or 4. You may not realize what it has done unless you think about it.

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If it does nothing but stop infections, that alone may prevent Alzheimer’s, years later. Or save your life from the flu that killed a healthy 20 year old. 

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Mg participates in immune responses in numerous ways: as a cofactor for immunoglobulin synthesis, C’3 convertase, immune cell adherence, antibody-dependent cytolysis, IgM lymphocyte binding, macrophage response to lymphokines, T helper-B cell adherence, binding of substance P to lymphoblasts and antigen binding to macrophage RNA. Mg deficiency in rodents impairs IgG synthesis and cell-mediated immunity; complications include thymus atrophy, elevated IgE, hypereosinophilia, histaminosis and lymphoma. Immunologic sequelae of Mg deficiency in humans are subtle and may be affected by genetic control of blood cell Mg concentration. Abnormal C’ activation, excess antibody production and susceptibility to allergy and to chronic fungal and viral infections have been reported. Mg appears to play a protective role in acute allergic reactions.

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From 2001, we learn how crucial magnesium is in many diseases:

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The multifaceted and widespread

pathology of magnesium deficiency

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Abstract

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…extremely important for the metabolism of Ca, K, P, Zn, Cu, Fe, Na, Pb, Cd, HCl, acetylcholine, and nitric oxide (NO), for many enzymes, for the intracellular homeostasis and for activation of thiamine and therefore, for a very wide gamut of crucial body functions. Unfortunately, Mg absorption and elimination depend on a very large number of variables, at least one of which often goes awry, leading to a Mg deficiency that can present with many signs and symptoms. Mg absorption requires plenty of Mg in the diet, Se, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and vitamins B6 and D. Furthermore, it is hindered by excess fat. On the other hand, Mg levels are decreased by excess ethanol, salt, phosphoric acid (sodas) and coffee intake, by profuse sweating, by intense, prolonged stress, by excessive menstruation and vaginal flux, by diuretics and other drugs and by certain parasites (pinworms). The very small probability that all the variables affecting Mg levels will behave favorably, results in a high probability of a gradually intensifying Mg deficiency. It is highly regrettable that the deficiency of such an inexpensive, low-toxicity nutrient result in diseases that cause incalculable suffering and expense throughout the world. The range of pathologies associated with Mg deficiency is staggering: hypertension (cardiovascular disease, kidney and liver damage, etc.), peroxynitrite damage (migraine, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Alzheimers disease, etc.), recurrent bacterial infection due to low levels of nitric oxide in the cavities (sinuses, vagina, middle ear, lungs, throat, etc.), fungal infections due to a depressed immune system, thiamine deactivation (low gastric acid, behavioral disorders, etc.), premenstrual syndrome, Ca deficiency (osteoporosis, hypertension, mood swings, etc.), tooth cavities, hearing loss, diabetes type II, cramps, muscle weakness, impotence (lack of NO), aggression (lack of NO), fibromas, K deficiency (arrhythmia, hypertension, some forms of cancer), Fe accumulation, etc. Finally, because there are so many variables involved in the Mg metabolism, evaluating the effect of Mg in many diseases has frustrated many researchers who have simply tried supplementation with Mg, without undertaking the task of ensuring its absorption and preventing excessive elimination, rendering the study of Mg deficiency much more difficult than for most other nutrients.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

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If any questions, please schedule an appointment with my office.

This site is not for email.

~~~~~

For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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Please be aware any advertising on this free educational website is

NOT advocated by me and NOT approved by me.

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Senate Bill 483: Every person with a chronic pain condition is adversely affected by new opioid prescribing laws.


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Support Senate Bill 48e if you want doctors to practice pain management, rather than trust your pain medication in the hands of the police, CDC, and FDA. See letter below from the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association.

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I don’t know anyone who wants the CDC to slash the dose of opioids and disregard specialist’s judgement: CDC proposes a radical experiment in rather violent cuts in dose, across the board, with no research, and under harsh pressure. Everyone will suffer because elected and appointment officials act from fear of addiction, fearof suicide among addicts, and prompted by anti-opioidists, against the judgement of the American Pain Society. Why bother accepting judgement of trained specialists? Plug in the Robotic AI and fall into line. The rich person in pain will do what they want, as they always have. But those dependent on healthcare insurers have already seen them deny 20 mg morphine per day, not the 100 mg per day that CDC wants radically cut.

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Addiction is a brain disease.

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Do you seriously think you will treat addiction and deaths from illegal street drugs by cutting the analgesic dose of pain patients?

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Do you think Philip Seymour Hoffman wanted to kill himself? I don’t. But he had no way to guarantee the dose he was using, and had to hide his addiction on his bathroom floor, hiding from friends and family. Imagine a safe clinic, rescue medication. He wanted no more addiction counselors. He wanted his drug

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Give addicts their drug. Free drug. Safe clinics. Standby with rescue meds. Whatever they want. Do we want them to choose theft and murder so they can get their $1.3 million each year for drug. Opioids, amphetamines cost pennies. Give it free.

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Would you throw your diabetic grandmother in jail? You’re not an addict. Why are they smashing your dose. You will suffer, it ain’t gonna be easy.

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Haven’t we learned from prohibition? From research in Portugal, and 11 countries, free clinics for drugs of abuse save billions. It saves lives. Leave our pain patients treatment in our hands. Why should CDC practice pain management when all they care about is addiction, death, overdoses?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported recently that the 28,647 deaths from prescription opioids and heroin in 2014 were a record. The agency said that more than six in 10 drug overdose deaths were caused by opioids that year.

West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio had the highest rates of drug overdose deaths per 100,000 people in 2014. North Dakota, New Hampshire, Maine, New Mexico and Alabama saw the largest increases in their death rates.

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Honey, CDC don’t care about pain. The public cares about addiction, all their girls and boys dying from prescriptions.

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Wake up and legalize all drugs, offer free clinics, free drugs, and voluntary behavioral therapy. It will save the country billions of dollars, pain patients will no longer get treated like addicts, you will get rid of narco-mafias – drugs are free! ferew murders, crime, deaths.

 

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What kind of crazy fails to learn from research – Portugal and 11 countries that legalized drugs – and fails to learn Prohibition breeds crime.

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One of my patients found another pain specialist because she didn’t want to hear all this. It makes her nervous. She wants her drugs. Ain’t gonna work for long. Bury your head in the sand. The country does not care about pain: they will not invest in pain research. Live with it.

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America cares about addiction. Deaths. Headlines. Votes.

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Every person with a chronic pain condition is adversely affected by new opioid prescribing laws.
Supporting Senate Bill 483 is our best opportunity to receive federal protection for access to pain care.
February 10, 2016

Dear NFMCPA Supporter,

None of us like controversy. I’m writing because as people with chronic pain, we are unavoidably being caught up in the U.S. national efforts to end opioid abuse. National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) is very concerned and has heard from many of you who are desperate about not being able to find pain relief.  Recent opioid policies address the many overdose deaths in the addiction community while significantly restricting the ability of pain patients to receive healthcare.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote this Thursday, February 11, 2016, on Senate Bill 483:  “Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2015.”  The NFMCPA supports Senate Bill 483, and we urgently ask for you to contact your U.S. Senator(s) and let them know of your support for this legislation if you live in AL, AZ, CA, IL, IA, DE, VT, NY, SC, TX, UT, RI, MN, LA, CT, GA, or NC, or know someone in those states who can take action.  An easy way to do that is to click here for the quick link on our website.  A copy of the bill can be found by clicking here.

Chronic pain is a disease.  People with life-altering pain suffer more now as a consequence of new opioid prescribing policies affecting their access to prescribed pain medications. Doctors don’t have effective treatment alternatives to offer, mostly due to the lack of insurance coverage and minimal scientific research of adjunct therapies. People with pain must take action to have these major access to care barriers included in the national conversation about prescription opioid medications.
Chronic pain seizes the brain. I know what I’m talking about. And so do you. It stops your thinking, your activity, and wears you out. Your body becomes afraid of more pain and that it will never stop. This pain becomes impossible to live with 24/7.
Chronic pain solutions belong in the presidential candidate primary debates and on the agenda of every member of Congress. The national “debate” about opioids is not a debate at all. It is a national effort to create legislation and policy at every level to drastically cut access to opioid medications, with little or no regard for millions of people with chronic pain who rely on these medications for pain relief. When individuals cannot get necessary care, unmanaged pain harms quality of life, relationships, and the ability to work and sleep.  Directly or indirectly, chronic pain touches every member of the community and their families.
Thank you for taking a few minutes to support legislation that will help us for a lifetime.
Sincerely,
Jan Chambers
President
info@fmcpaware.org
National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association
31 Federal Avenue
Logan, UT 84321
email: info@fmcpaware.org
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