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.

Leave a Reply