The controversy of treating pain with opioid painkillers continues… Prescriptions for powerful opioid painkiller drugs have skyrocketed in the United States, but identification and treatment of pain has not improved, according to a new study published on WebMd. According to the study, 164 million pain-related visits to doctors were tracked in 2010, about half of which were treated with some kind of pain reliever: 20 percent with an opioid and 27 percent with a non-opioid. The study was published online Sept. 13 in the journal Medical Care.
According to another article, Opioids are used routinely and effectively for the treatment of acute severe pain following trauma, extensive burns or surgery. They are also used for patients with painful terminal diseases such as cancer. In these time-limited situations the efficacy of opiates is extensively documented and broadly accepted. In fact, their use has recently grown, in part because providing adequate pain relief is now considered an important standard of care and is required by law in some states. Beyond potent analgesia, opiates reduce anxiety and produce mild sedation and a palpable sense of well-being, often to the point of euphoria. These are an unmitigated benefit for patients who would otherwise have to endure the pain and suffering of acute or terminal medical conditions. While there is no debate over the short term use of opiates, their use for chronic non-malignant pain is controversial and there is growing reluctance among some physicians to prescribe them.