Pain Patients Are Not 'Druggies'


pain patients rally
Tina Neal, left, Constance Durkin, center, and Debbie Babara are just three of many patients at the
Roland Wellness Clinic who suffer from chronic pain. The ladies were out at Creekmore Park in Fort
Smith, Ark. to show their support and bring awareness to Pain Patients Advocacy Week, which is
the last week in April.
(photo by Anny Sivilay)


Eastern Times-Register
Anny Sivilay     May 1, 2013


Four individuals stood out at Creekmore Park in Fort Smith, Ark. Saturday afternoon to bring awareness to Pain Patients Advocacy week, which is dedicated for the last week of April. Despite the soggy weather and their chronic pain, three women and a man, who prefers to remain anonymous, rallied on.

Tina Neal, Constance Durkin and Debbie Barbara, all of Fort Smith, are pain patients at the Roland Wellness Clinic. These women are aware of the stigma that prescription pain medication users and the clinic has, but wants people to know that pain patients are not “druggies.”

According to the June 2011 report by the Institute of Medicine, “Chronic pain affects about 100 million American adults – more than the total affected by heart disease, cancer, and diabetes combined. Pain also costs the nation up to $635 billion each year in medical treatment and lost productivity.”

"The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act required the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to enlist the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in examining pain as a public health problem. Acting through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), HHS asked the IOM to assess the state of the science regarding pain research, care, and education and to make recommendations to advance the field,” the Institute of Medicine’s website states.

"It’s not a pill mill. We’re not out here handing out drugs or promoting drug use, we’re here for pain management,” said Neal.

Neal’s chronic pain is the result of an auto accident.

"I was hit by a car (while) on a bicycle, and was legally dead (resuscitated),” she said. “I was not supposed to walk again, but thanks to the good Lord and Dr. (Ronald) Myers, I can walk again.”

"A lot of people are worse off,” added Durkin. “There are people on walkers and wheelchairs (at the clinic).”

Durkin said that she has heard many stories at the clinic from chronic pain sufferers, who suffer chronic pain as a result of an auto accident, arthritis, or other injuries, like a 22-year-old man who she said has had both of his knee caps replaced twice.

Durkin said she suffers from chronic pain as a result of falling down a flight of stairs. From this accident she broke her rib cage, vertebrates and arm in several places. She says she needs pain medication to manage her pain in order to do every day things.

"Fewer and fewer doctors are treating pain patients because of the fear of revocation of their medical licenses by actions of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the state medical boards,” stated Rev., Dr. Myers, in an April 2013 press release. “Now the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has joined forces with the DEA to force pharmacists to severely cut back on the number of certain pain medications they fill by 60 to 85 percent. This has created a treatment crisis for many chronic pain patients.”

The women said that over the counter medications like Advil and Aleve do not work and some have horrible side effects, like liver damage.

"I’ve taken them (prescription pain medication) for seven years with no adverse affects,” Barbara said.

Barbara attributes her chronic pain to a degenerative disc disease. She has had two surgeries and was told by her doctors she could not have any more surgeries.

"Without them (pain medication) I would be on the couch every day,” she said. “But with it, I’m able to function like a normal person.”

According to Cedars-Sinai’s website, a generative disc disease is not a actually a disease, but refers to a “condition in which pain is caused from a damaged disc. A wide range of symptoms and severity is associated with this condition.”

The website explains that the spinal discs act like “shock absorbers between the bones of the spine and are designed to help the back stay flexible while resisting terrific forces in many different planes of motion.”

Each disc has two parts –A firm, tough outer layer that contains nerves, and if discs are torn in this area it can become “quite painful.” The second part is “a soft jelly-like core” that contain proteins that can cause pain if the “proteins leak out to the nerves of the outer layer of disc.”

Neal said her frustration is the lack of people who showed up to show their support and bring awareness to pain patients.

"(They) think that we’re all druggies,” she said. “Do we look like druggies?”

Undoubtedly, there are those who abuse prescription pain medication, but there are those who genuinely suffer from chronic pain and require prescription medication in order to manage their pain so they can live normal lives.

For more information on pain patient advocacy, visit www.PainPatientsCoalition.com.

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