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Opioid use in Fibromyalgia: potential problems
Monday 14 November 2011
In a review of charts at a multidisciplinary fibromyalgia clinic, researchers found that 32% of patients were taking opioids (i.e., Vicodin, Percocet, OxyContin) with more than 2/3 of them on strong ones.
Researchers identified several characteristics that made people more likely to be on long-term opioids: lower education, unemployment, being on disability, current unstable psychiatric disorder, history of substance abuse and prior suicide attempts. They also say they "observed negative health and psychosocial status in patients using opioids."
The paper supports the current medical opinion discouraging opioid use in fibromyalgia and concludes that prolonged use requires evaluation.
It's common to hear doctors say that these drugs are ineffective in fibromyalgia, but so far we have very little research to go on. The patient community is divided, with some saying they don't work and others saying they're the only drugs that do anything.
The issues of abuse and addiction complicate the matter, especially with doctors afraid of serious legal consequences for what may be considered improper prescribing.
As a fibromyalgia patient who's been on Vicodin for 5.5 years, I can confidently say that these drugs do help me - and what's more, they're the only ones I've been able to tolerate. I wish I didn't need to take them, for several reasons, but the reality is that I do. It scares me that someday I might not be able to get them anymore, and I'd be left in pain and desperate. (And just for the record, no I am not addicted. I take, on average, 1-2 pills a week - down from 1-2 per day a few years ago - and I've never had a dosage increase.) What's more, I'm concerned about being stereotyped by studies like this even though not one of the characteristics describes me.
Do opioids work for you? Do you worry about addiction? Do you worry that studies like this will make it harder for you to get pain killers? Leave your comments below!
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The above, with comments, originally appeared here.
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