Long term opiate use safe; One woman’s experience with Savella

There are two great arti­cles from Karen Lee Richards in HealthCentral’s Chron­ic Pain Con­nec­tion newslet­ter today.

The first, Long-Term Opi­oid Ther­a­py – What Are the Effects?, brings us the results of Dr. For­est Tennant’s ground-break­ing study. He eval­u­at­ed 24 chron­ic pain patients from 30 to 79 years old who had been using opi­oids for 10 to 35 years, and “con­clud­ed that the sig­nif­i­cant improve­ments in qual­i­ty of life and phys­i­cal func­tion­ing from opi­oid ther­a­py are so pos­i­tive they out­weigh any neg­a­tive com­pli­ca­tions, which can be eas­i­ly man­aged.”

Almost all of the patients (22 of 24) said their pain had per­ma­nent­ly decreased over time. And the vast major­i­ty (20 of 24) felt their opi­oids still pro­vid­ed the same relief as when they start­ed treat­ment. All of the patients report­ed one or more func­tions or activ­i­ties they can do now that they couldn’t do pri­or to begin­ning opi­oid ther­a­py (i.e., get out of bed every­day, take walks, shop or vis­it friends).

The arti­cle details the patients’ diag­noses and gives fur­ther infor­ma­tion, and I encour­age you to read the rest of it. While the study was small and obvi­ous­ly needs to be repeat­ed with a larg­er group, this is mar­velous news, and I for one am very grate­ful for Dr. Tennant’s work and the par­tic­i­pa­tion of his sub­jects.

I have to say that I find HealthCentral’s sites to be gen­er­aly decent, but the Chron­ic Pain Con­nec­tion is out­stand­ing. I encour­age you to vis­it and sub­scribe to the newslet­ter.

Next, in One Patient’s Expe­ri­ence with Savel­la for Fibromyal­gia, Richards brings us detailed feed­back from one of her con­tacts, Bren­da, who has been tak­ing the new drug for sev­en weeks. Many of us have heard of Savel­la, but so few have had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to try it or know any­one who have that this arti­cle is very help­ful in mak­ing a deci­sion as to whether or not to ask our physi­cians for it. After read­ing about Brenda’s advice regard­ing insur­ance expe­ri­ences, deal­ing with side effects, and pos­i­tive results, I for one will be talk­ing to my neu­rol­o­gist about a tri­al pack.

December 3, 2009 · Cyn Armistead · 6 Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Fibromyalgia, Pain, Resources, treatments

6 Responses

  1. Karen Lee Richards - January 19, 2010

    On behalf of Chron­ic­PainCon­nec­tion, I’d like to thank you for your very kind words. It means a lot to know that our site is help­ing to pro­vide use­ful infor­ma­tion and encour­age­ment.

    I also want­ed to tell you that I love the title of your blog! So clever – and it projects such a won­der­ful, pos­i­tive atti­tude. I appre­ci­ate your efforts here to edu­cate and sup­port peo­ple with fibromyal­gia. – Karen

  2. pamela smeberg - June 20, 2010

    Thank you so much for bring­ing to light a cred­i­ble study done on patients with chron­ic pain who have found that there can stil be qual­i­ty of life in spite of severe chron­ic pain through long term use of opi­ate ther­a­py. I have been on a strong dose of opi­ates for 15 years. Had I not been place on it, I most assured­ly would have com­mit­ted sui­cide by now. I have nev­er been sus­pect­ed of being “under the influ­ence” of any sub­stance. I can think and speak clear­ly and most of all I can live a fair­ly nor­mal life. Because I have been on opi­ates for 32 out of my 61 years sev­er­al pain spe­cial­ists have explained that even if there were alter­na­tive treat­ments to relieve my pain (which is at mul­ti­ple sites and of dif­fer­ing ori­gins) it would be a very dif­fi­cult course requir­ing years of emo­tion­al upheavals. My brain has been irrev­o­ca­bly changed at the cel­lu­lar lev­el where the opi­ate recep­tors are found and they may nev­er recov­er their abil­i­ty to pro­duce endor­phins that are found in the nor­mal brain. I have accept­ed the inevitabil­i­ty of not try­ing to fix some­thing that to me is not bro­ken and take my pain meds along with my thy­roid meds, my estro­gen, and my blood pres­sure med. Con­sid­er­ing my lifes­pan may not be much more than 20–25 years, I choose not to go down a path that would require the use of SSRI’s (which may or may not work and would prob­a­bly have to be changed sev­er­al times to get the right one); I would also have to face decades of deep depres­sion. many vis­its to a psy­chi­a­trist among oth­er ther­a­pies. Although my con­di­tions are not at all sta­t­ic (I have recent­ly devel­oped severe mus­cle spasms in my upper and low­er back due to bone spurs on the ver­te­brae, I will deal with this addi­tion­al issues as they occur. Unfor­tu­nate­ly so many doc­tors have made me feel like a drug addict or drug seek­er, that it was tru­ly refresh­ing to learn that there are oth­ers out there liv­ing their lives to a full extent thanks to the old­est and most respect­ed pain med­ica­tion on earth.

  3. Gilbert Blaum - December 18, 2010

    I’m a physcian of 40 years doing fam­i­ly prac­tice (car­ing for the whole body) and for 30 felt ter­ri­ble being unable to treat pts with opi­ates in ade­quate dose because of peer criti­sizm. I began read­ing every arti­cle i could find by Dr Ten­nant. That was 8 years ago and now lim­it my prac­tice pri­mar­i­ly to pain con­trol using his pro­to­cols etc. Wow, what a sat­is­fy­ing expe­ri­ence. I can’t count the num­ber of unem­ployed “drug addicts” accord­ing to ER’s and many oth­er MD’s that are back in the work force and being an active and pro­duc­tive human in soci­ety. We all thank you Dr Ten­nant

  4. Eric Machiavelli - April 2, 2011

    I’ve been in chron­ic pain for 12–13 years due to a car crash.
    Expe­ri­ence almost con­stant neck and upper back pain. The catch is I’m deeply involved in a 12 step pro­gram. Been down the opi­ate road and ruined that for myself as a way of legit­i­mate pain relief. I’m work­ing with a decent DC now, but what she can do for me is usu­al­ly tem­po­rary. Be strong as pos­si­ble all!

  5. Mike - April 13, 2011

    I find the atti­tude of soci­ety becom­ing more extreme because of the inter­net. These days if the per­ceived major­i­ty don’t agree with some­thing it’s wrong and you are brand­ed an out­cast. When some­thing works for some­one (e.g. opi­ates) it works and if it makes them pro­duc­tive in soci­ety that can only be a good thing. We all need to become less stereo­typ­i­cal, hyp­o­crit­i­cal and more tol­er­ant.

  6. Jude Walter - July 8, 2011

    Stud­ies like these are very use­ful and impor­tant to the med­ical indus­try. Results of these stud­ies con­tribute a lot towards the improve­ment of the indus­try. I can relate to the first study which is about the use of opi­oids since I did a paper once about it. But I focused more on its dis­ad­van­tages like they can­not elim­i­nate pain.

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