Analysis: Controversy Over CDC’s Proposed Opioid Prescribing Guidelines

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently came out with controversial proposed guidelines for opioid prescribing through a process that critics say may harm pain patients and is based on relatively low-grade evidence.

Baker’s Opioid Plan Gets It Only Half Right

Governor Baker’s plan to increase opioid education, which he announced on Nov. 9 with the deans of the state’s four medical schools, gets it only half right.

Exploring The Link Between Chronic Pain And Suicide

This week’s grim report about rising suicide and overall death rates among white, middle-aged Americans contains a slim silver lining. Here it is:


Using a new brain scanning technology, neuroscientists at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have produced dramatic images showing how glial cells – cells derived from the immune system that live in the nervous system – get activated in chronic pain patients. The technology should not only help diagnose pain, but boost research into the novel idea of using an antibiotic and other anti-glial drugs to treat back pain. (Citation: Brain, March, 2015.)

As with Addiction, Chronic Pain Is Epidemic Too

(Letter to the Editor, published in The Boston Globe, January 1, 2015)

Could Legalizing Pot Reduce Accidental Deaths From Harder Drugs?

For several years now, pain researchers have been wondering about a question that lay folks, including federal government regulators, might dismiss as absurd: The idea that marijuana, far from creating more problems for people who use opioids (narcotics), might, at least in some cases, help prevent opioid overdoses.

Opinion: Why Zohydro Ban Is A Tough Call

U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel today disappointed anyone who expected her to quickly strike down Gov. Deval Patrick’s ban on the sale of the new pain reliever Zohydro. She declined to rule on the drug maker’s request to quickly but temporarily lift the ban, and is continuing to consider whether to lift the ban permanently.

Citing Addiction Fears, Group Asks FDA To Revoke Painkiller Approval

In an unusual move, a coalition of activists and physicians, concerned about the problem of prescription pain-reliever abuse, yesterday asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to revoke its approval of a new type of opioid called Zohydro. The medication is expected to be on the market soon.

Exercise – the best non-drug treatment for chronic pain

By Judy Foreman

It was July 1, 2008.

I was standing outside the Outpatient Center at Chestnut Hill/New England Baptist Hospital in Boston – better known as “boot camp” – and I was petrified. I had been in excruciating neck pain for more than six months. The burning, searing pain ran straight from the lower part of my neck across to my left shoulder, along the way triggering muscle spasms so severe that my head was chronically tipped to the left, a problem called cervical dystonia, or, alternatively, torticollis.

The Day the Filing Cabinets Fell on Cindy Steinberg

Eighteen years ago, when she was in her early 30s, Cindy Steinberg severely injured her back at work when an unsecured filing cabinet and the cubicle walls stacked behind it fell on her. Although the diagnosis for the product development manager at a learning-technology company just outside Harvard Square was torn ligaments and damaged nerves — between thoracic disc levels 7 and 10 — it took five years for doctors to find an effective combination of treatments for her chronic pain, including an opioid pain reliever called Lortab, which is similar to Vicodin. “I was in total disbelief that I could be in this much pain and there wasn’t anyone or anything that could really help me,” says Steinberg. Doctors treated her in a “demeaning, disbelieving, dismissive, and distrustful” manner, she adds.