Medical Researchers Analyze Social Media to Understand Side Effects of Pain Meds


Medical Researchers Analyze Social Media to Understand Side Effects of Pain Meds

Harnessing the power of social media, medical researchers have sifted through more than two billion tweets and online posts to study the harmful side effects of narcotics medication taken for chronic pain. The research team, led by the Cedars-Sinai Center for Outcomes Research and Education, reviewed a vast collection of patient entries on Twitter and social media forums such as and
The unfiltered sentiments posted on these sites revealed details not often captured by physicians or traditional clinical research about the gastrointestinal side effects of narcotics medication. In online messages, for example, some patients described experiencing severe constipation that was even more debilitating than their underlying illnesses.
The researchers believe the study is the first of its kind to analyze social media data related to gastrointestinal side effects from narcotics. “Social media can be used as a huge epidemiological database, a treasure-trove of insights from patients about their illness experiences, their treatments, and their attitudes and beliefs about health and disease,” said Brennan Spiegel, MD, MSHS, director of Cedars-Sinai Health Services Research and director of the Center for Outcomes Research and Education.
The study appears online in the Journal of Opioid Management.

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Opioids Saved My Life


Opioids Saved My Life

My new life of chronic pain started in May of 2005. After being diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, I was given a series of 3 epidural steroid injections with a corticosteroid made by Pfizer called Depo-Medrol. I had no relief from the first two injections, but my doctor insisted that I try a third one. He struggled to get the needle into the epidural space, probably because of scar tissue in my back caused by a prior back surgery, a laminectomy.
After the 3rd steroid injection, I had a severe, instant headache, which was relieved somewhat when I laid down. The doctor had punctured my dura, the outer lining of the spinal cord, which caused a spinal leak. He was defensive when I told him about my headache pain, saying, “No way, there was no fluid in my syringe.” After an unsuccessful blood patch, I ended up in the ER a week later with the worst, throbbing headache I ever suffered. Every time I lifted my head I vomited violently. The doctor ordered numerous tests and he finally diagnosed me with too much STRESS! I knew something had gone wrong during the epidural steroid injection, yet my doctor blamed me for the harm he did to my spine. My pain worsened over time and it became so intense that I thought about suicide.

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Safe Prescribing Tools for Health Care Providers


Safe Prescribing Tools for Health Care Providers

Reversing the epidemic requires changing the way opioids are prescribed.
For more than 20 years, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC’s Injury Center) has been the nation’s leading public health authority on violence and injury prevention. CDC’s Injury Center uses evidence-based practices to create real-world solutions to prevent prescription opioid overdose, while ensuring people have access to safe and effective pain treatment.

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How Many Opiates Do You Take A Day?

Is There A Stigma Where You Live About Taking Opiates?

Patient Satisfaction Scores Not Affected by Amount of Opioids Given in Emergency Room

Patient Satisfaction Scores Not Affected by Amount of Opioids Given in Emergency Room

Giving opioids to patients in the emergency room (ER) does not affect their satisfaction scores, according a retrospective analysis of medical records and Press Ganey patient satisfaction surveys.
Researchers matched the medical records and completed surveys of 4,749 patients seen in the ERs of two New England hospitals to determine if there is a link between the amount of opioids administered in the ER and Press Ganey scores—one of the most commonly used metrics for measuring patient satisfaction, according to the study authors. They also factored in other variables such as medication order, health insurance status, time of arrival to the ER, total length of stay and patient-reported pain levels. The researchers did not find any association between prescribing opioids and patient satisfaction scores.
“Based on these findings, the administration of opioids in the emergency department setting does not make patients more satisfied,” said study author Kavita Babu, MD, in a press release.
Administering opioids in the ER is a challenge to physicians because of the time constraints, concerns about safety and lack of familiarity with the patient, according to the researchers. However, because compensation is linked to patient satisfaction scores in some hospital settings, some physicians might feel pressured to prescribe opioids to keep these scores up.

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Addiction to Narcotic Medications


Addiction to Narcotic Medications

Recent media coverage of narcotic medications and addiction has led to serious misconceptions about the role of such medications in treating chronic pain. The media’s sensationalism of this issue has tragic repercussions for the more than 70 million Americans who suffer with chronic pain. The National Pain Foundation is concerned that such coverage, which reinforces misperceptions about narcotics, may lead to unnecessary withholding of these highly effective medications from patients who can benefit from narcotic treatment. The sensationalism also leads to reluctance on the part of patients to take such medications.

Confusion and misinformation surrounding physical dependence, tolerance, and addiction contribute to the already significant problem of the undertreatment of pain. Use of narcotics in the treatment of chronic pain rarely results in addiction. There are many options to treat chronic pain, ranging from medications, physical therapy, complementary therapies, psychological therapies, injections, and surgery. Narcotics are an effective option for treating pain for many individuals and can play a crucial role in pain control.

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